Creative Questionnaire (2)

November 30th, 2008

Okay, thanks to all who offered ideas about the creativity questionnaire.  I’m unilaterally adding a couple of questions:

1.  Do you have many ideas you don’t follow up creatively?  If so, what are your criteria for identifying the ideas you want to work on versus those you’ll toss or put on the back burner?

2.  Have you abandoned projects and left them unfinished?  If so, why?  And if it’s because you don’t feel capable of finishing it, how do you know when something is beyond rescue — that it’s something that you can’t make better?

I’m going to send requests to several people I know — writers, painters, musicians.  I think, though, that we should approach as broad a group of creative people as possible, so I have another question:

What’s a creative person?

Another way to put it is, what kinds of people would you like to hear from?

Do they have to be well-known?  Does any art form — from fiction and music to quilting and ceramics — qualify, as long as it’s a creative activity?  What about especially accomplished bloggers?  I’d appreciate thoughts about this.

And I also want to know that there’s some interest, before I spend hours and hours on it.  So let me hear from you, even if it’s only to say that you’re interested in seeing how it develops.  Otherwise, there’s not much point in asking people to play.

What I’m thinking is that this could be a long-range project that could ultimately create some sort of extensive documentation of the creative process, as it’s experienced across the spectrum of creative endeavor.  But only if people are actually interested in seeing how it comes out.

So let me know.

12 Responses to “Creative Questionnaire (2)”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    Hi, Tim

    As your time permits I would be very interested in seeing how this all comes out.

    In terms of answering the question, What is a creative person? I would argue that we are all creative in some way or another but perhaps the most interesting responses will come from those who are engaged in a creative process that demands a high degree of thoughtful engagement and discipline , and those who have produced a fully developed body of work. All forms of art are interesting to me, and I don’t think that fame is a necessary requirement.

  2. Lisa Kenney Says:

    I am very interested in this project, and I love the idea of including all kinds of creative types. I believe you’re on to something amazing…

  3. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    I’m fascinated by this thread. I can’t wait to see what you uncover. I haven’t contributed my question because I’m struggling with putting it into coherent words, imagine that!

  4. Dana King Says:

    I would definitely like to see the results. As I mentioned before, I think there could be a wide interest in the psychology discipline, and could open the door to much other worthwhile research. Considering you’ll be querying only creative people, it should be fun as hell to read, too.

  5. John Lindquist Says:

    Tim, your website should be! I would be very interested in how your responses go. I am struck by how many of your questions can pertain to a wide range of activities – for example: planning a research project or outlining a course to teach. My clarkkent job is microbiology lab instructor at UW-Madison, and I have made use of occasional flashes of inspiration that eventually wind up helping to explain the “big picture” such that the specifics (specific examples) can make sense and relate to each other more efficiently. Homo sapiens and E. coli have a lot more in common than most people realize.

    Right now I am grading a take-home quiz and I’m amazed at the creativity of some of the students regarding the answers they are coming up with – even though they had access to reliable sources. I’m reading a lot of alternate realities, but this ain’t no science fiction course.

    Some years ago I was an avid viewer of “NYPD Blue” and would always enjoy the scene where the detectives would order the perps & mopes to sit down and write out their stories about a particular event. This was repeated in almost every episode with the nice clean table and sharpened pencils and pristine yellow pads. They would always begin immediately, and I always wondered if they had an outline in mind to use as a guide or if they just wrote by the seat of their pants. It would have been interesting to have an episode where there would be a comparison of writing style, spelling, grammar, recollection of facts and motivations, etc. – perhaps having it develop as a Rashomon scenario.

    Anyway, I can imagine someone writing a scene where the characters are debating your questions. H. G. Wells had some scenes like that.

  6. Sylvia Says:

    It sounds interesting to me. Personally I would like some restrictions on “creative” – I’m really not too interested in the answers from the eleven-year-old next door. But that doesn’t mean it must be someone wildly successful – just that they have a continued creative output of I guess at least a couple of years.

    Bloggers are nice because then we can go and find out more about them – but I don’t think that’s necessary, just a bonus.

  7. Larissa Says:

    Very interested. Stuff like this is hard to do because it’d dealing with an abstract concept that blends into emotion and action. Creativity or to be creative I think is a loaded idea…it’s taking the impulse to make or do something, combining it with some sort of emotional quality whether that’s happiness, depression, anger etc. and smashing them together to come up with something that embodies both the technical skills of the “creator” and the communicative skills…to me those come from two different places. I”ll be very interested in reading how other people view their ideas of creativity, what it means to be creative and how they ever manage to get through a project. I went to a museum dedicated to the artwork of the mentally challenged but not just a random assortment. People who were mentally challenged and in prison for some act against society. Most of the work in there was really amazing. And I’m not one for that sort of thing. The artwork that I saw there was incredibly intense and had varying degrees of “technical ability” but was extremely emotive and communicative.

    It raised a huge list of questions about what drives people to make things-why people choose the creative process to begin with.

    I’ll stop going on and on-I guess I’ve been out of the blogging mode for too long. It’s all starting to catch up with me.

    I look forward to what happens with this.

  8. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Wow, great spectrum of posts. I’m thinking, among other things, that we ought to be asking these creative people what they think creativity is, as well as why they do it, where it comes from, etc.

    Suzanna, I agree that fame isn’t necessary, especially since some of the most creative people I know have never achieved it, and I think it’s important that the people to whom we turn should have finished something. I’m not sure it needs to be a large body of work — there are a couple of one-time novelists who are high on my list.

    Lisa, I think the broadest scope will present the most interesting results. I’d like to have poets, novelists, painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians both classical and popular, and on and on and on. And I include really good bloggers, of whom you are one — anyone who doesn’t think that’s a creative activity hasn’t tried it.

    Cynthia, I can’t wait to see what we uncover, either. I’m sort of torn between asking people to answer specific questions, or just giving them the questionnaire to jog their thought process. Any suggestions?

    Dana, one of my problems with higher education is that they don’t turn to creative people to teach creative disciplines. That’s why the Iowa Writers Workshop was so revolutionary — the idea, getting actual writers to teach writing? Some of those people didn’t even have PhD degrees!!!

    John, I believe that science is absolutely a creative activity. And I also think that most kids have an instinctive creative response to most stimuli that gets hammered out of them because it’s not “practical,” which is mostly because the teachers can’t keep up with it –there are just too many kids to deal with highly individual reactions. So a creative response to scientific material doesn’t get reinforced the way a rote response does. And you get a graduating class of clerks.

    Sylvia, I agree that we want people who are adults, but mostly, from my perspective, because creative adults have had to make choices to put creativity high on their list of priorities, which means that they have to find a way to be creative efficiently, to some degree. If they’re not, they’ll probably stop trying, because creative endeavor siphons off a huge amount of energy. And since I’m a very practical person, I’m extremely interested in creative efficiency.

    Larissa, your response opens a huge vista, but I’m probably inclined to say that a creative person, for purposes of this project, is an adult who gives a very high priority to an ongoing creative enterprise, who has brought at least one major work to completion, and who plans to continue working creatively for the foreseeable future.

    And by the way, I’ve contacted some people already, and the ball is in their court.

  9. John Lindquist Says:

    Tim, your response to my comment is so on the money and is really helpful. I feel better about giving some leeway in my grading to answers that show thinking “out of the box” even if such answers are implausible.

    Personally I’d like to teach a course analyzing the science of “Stargate SG-1” but I’ll save that for another time (or timeline).

    Thanks, Tim! BTW, I’m including a Pleasure Fair cut on my Christmas oldies radio show in a couple of weeks.

  10. Larissa Says:

    John-I would sign up for that class immediately. I’ve been addicted for years. (c:

  11. suzanna Says:

    Hi, Tim

    Quality not quantity. Genius produces extraordinary work right off the top but that is pretty rare. Practice is usually what most of us are left to work with.

  12. Pia Says:

    I’m curious to see what comes out of it and what answers various creative persons are going to give. I think there’ll be a bunch of gold-nuggets hidden that we all can use at some point.


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