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Amanda Coetzee

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The logic of creativity

This year I have been fortunate enough to attend a couple of literary festivals and network with readers and authors alike. One of the questions regularly raised is regarding the mechanism of writing; does it organically occur in a creative mist of inspiration or is it more daily grind and planning?

It has been unsettling for me to discover how many writers free fall into a creative space where the stories unfold and characters weave their own tales. I say unsettling because my own approach is somewhat pedestrian in comparison. I research, I plan, I sift, I even happily draw mind maps and character sketches and have a fairly concrete idea of what I am going to try and write.

This approach seems resigned to produce one of two reactions; relief from the methodical camp, or bemusement from writers and a soft sigh of disappointment from readers. I even understand it, after all where is the mystery in a structured environment of planning and commitment to achieving a pre-ordained daily word count? Yet in my world there is a magic in being able to produce on paper what was still only a thought, even if it was a well formed thought.

The truth is, I suspect there are as many approaches to writing as there are books and authors and that is as it should be. Some of us that write alone cannot imagine a collaborative process and yet that is how many people routinely produce books. Team writers consider the solitary process of developing a manuscript intensely lonely, wracked with doubt and I am confident that despite the disparity; we are all right. The logic of creativity is not that there is a formula, but that we formulate the best way to bring to life the stories that burn within.

My own writing style is no doubt a combination of personality and circumstance. As a deputy principal of a large school and mother of a busy four year old, I rarely have time to sit and stare at a blank computer screen even as I love the poetry of the concept. Instead, when I sit down to write, I have a plan and a structure and it works for me. Is it dull to hear that producing a book has as much to do with organisation as creativity; possibly. Is it drudgery to create within a framework?

Not on your life; it’s my personal brand of magic.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    July 9th, 2013 @09:19 #

    Your way of careful planning is perfect for crime writing - I mean, how else would you keep track of all the twists and turns and red herrings? Some great advice here.


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