So, I was cruising through my Google Reader feed last night, and I came across this article on CRACKED.com: "5 Workplace Annoyances That Can Boost Your Creativity." It's well worth a read. Although it is on Cracked, so expect some mild profanity and puerile humor. If that sort of thing offends you, don't click through. (Actually, if that sort of thing offends you, it may be best to stay off the internet entirely.)
It struck me that these apply to writers, too. So here's my reinterpretation of the five workplace annoyances as applied to writing:
5. You're more creative when you're tired or drunk
I once heard that Jack Prelutsky wrote all his poems in the middle of the night. It makes sense now. And all those legions of alcoholic writers? Now I get it. And resemble it.
4. Sarcastic people can help you generate ideas
The snarky main character has become such a fixture in YA that she's almost a cliche. Now I understand. Sarcasm boosts creativity, writers need to be creative, therefore writers are more likely to be skilled with sarcasm. And to pass on this skill to their characters.
3. Constant annoying background noise helps you focus
Can we finally put the mockery of the coffee shop writer to rest? Silence is deadly--to creativity.
2. A sex-free mind is a creative mind
It turns out that thinking about sex activates the analytical parts of your brain, while thinking about love activates the creative parts of your brain. (Cracked cites this fascinating study.) Maybe there's a scientific explanation for what I always thought about during math tests. On the other hand, two words might explain my math-class daydreams just as well: teenage boy.
There's a wealth of incredibly moving YA literature focused on love. Whereas the few YA novels I've read that focus primarily on sex have left me, well, cold. Perhaps this study helps to explain why.
1. You're more creative when you don't get paid
Note to anyone from Tanglewood Press who reads this: I'm pretty sure I'm the exception to this rule. The more you pay me, the more creative I am.
Now that we've got that out of the way, what the authors of the study Cracked cites found was that art students who were intrinsically motivated did far better in their careers than those who were extrinsically motivated. The same is no doubt true among novelists. If you're in it primarily for the money, you're never going to make it through the inevitable rough patches--the years of trying to write a decent novel and sell it, for example.
On the other hand, I'm a little suspicious of authors who say they write only for themselves. Why put yourself through the flesh-wringing agony of trying to get published if you're only writing for yourself?
If you haven't yet, read the Cracked article--it's well worth your time. What boosts your creativity? Let me know in the comments please.