Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: pantser writer

Why unleash divergent thinking on the world?

My guiding theme this month is activating and expanding our creativity. Certainly there are many ways to do this, and what’s ideal for one creative mind won’t be timed well or presented effectively for another and their stage of growth. With creativity, it’s far more a matter of guidelines than rules.

But however you slice it, play it, or try to sneak up on it, creativity generally involves divergent thinking. in a divergent thinking process, you don’t follow a single logic chain, you come up with a bunch of different possible answers to the question you started with. 

If this sounds like brainstorming to you, there’s a good reason. The whole point of brainstorming is to bypass the convention-bound internal editor or censor we all carry around with us in our minds, and free up divergent ideas. That’s why “there are no wrong answers” and “there are no stupid ideas” when you’re brainstorming.

The process has kinship to quick, unplanned sketches for artistsimprov for actors, or writing first drafts for writers (especially those who identify as “pantsers“).

Why unleash divergent thinking on the world? Because you never know what you’ll think of next. Or what some other divergent thinker, in any blend of disciplines under the sun, might think of next. Or how it might be applied. As John Spencer points out in this video on inspiring students to be innovators, the possibilities are endless.

Let’s just please try to use our creative powers of divergent thinking for good, okay?

IMAGES: Many thanks to Benjamin Riollet’s “Wit & Delight” Tumblr for the “answer with this abstract shape” image, and John Spencer’s YouTube Channel for the “I want to see students become innovators” video. I appreciate you both!


Jan S. Gephardt at the keyboard. Photo by Colette Waters.

Did you ever have one of those projects you thought was just about done . . . except you needed to adjust this one thing.

And then that one thing led logically to another. And after that you discovered an excellent new technique and it would apply to this current project, so now if you just revamp these bits . . . .

Eventually it HAS to end. In this case I’m talking about the novel I am THIS CLOSE to having completely ready to start productionON or before September 3, 2018, it shall be done (or else).

For reals. mean it. Friends who know me will point, laugh, and say, “Got THAT right!” when I tell you I am not a fast writer. For all my ongoing efforts to be a well-organized, methodical “plotter,” the “pantser” in my soul frequently takes me walkabout, as a way to open up whole new projects through the “discovery method.”

Here’s the color comp for the cover of What’s Bred in the Bone, created by one of my favorite artists, Jody A. Lee, based on a scene from the book.

may not live long enough to finish all of the projects I already have in my files (partially developed through said “discovery method” and mostly set in the same fictional universe), but by God I’ll have fun writing them. I also hope people will have fun reading them–which necessitates finishing them, and publishing them.

That’s my current task: sternly striving not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and working on finishing a final, publishable version of What’s Bred in the Bone.

The world I currently inhabit for as many of my waking hours as possible these days is the one I’ve been writing about (and in which I’m making the aforementioned revisions).

Set in an indeterminate future era which I call the Twenty-Fourth-and-a-Half Century, most of the action takes place on Torus Two of Rana Habitat Space Station, through the eyes of an XK9: an enormous, genetically-engineered, cybernetically-enhanced police dog named Rex, as well as his mate Shady and his human partner Charlie.

Readings from What’s Bred in the Bone that I’ve done at science fiction conventions, such as DemiCon 29 and SoonerCon 27, have been met with enthusiasm, which is encouraging. Most of my beta-readers have been enthusiastic, too. If you’ll be at Worldcon 76, I have a 30-minute reading scheduled there on Monday, Aug. 20, 11:00 a.m. in Room 211A. I hope to see you there!

IMAGES: Many thanks to the talented Colette Waters for the enhanced reality represented by her photo of me, and to the amazing Jody A. Lee, for the color comp of the cover-art-that-will-be for What’s Bred in the Bone.

Writing is like . . .

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Especially for the “pantser,” I think:

If you’re one of the brave souls who are persisting in the creative challenge to participate in Na-No-Wri-Mo (National Novel Writing Month), then you’ve already long since figured out this aspect of your writing process. To all writers everywhere, Good luck, and keep writing!

IMAGE: Many thanks to Writing Sisters and E.L. Doctorow for this week’s quotation image.

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