Monday, July 06, 2009

Creativity, Laughter and the Element of Surprise

Two weeks into My Great Twitter Adventure and I've made some surprising discoveries. The first of which is how openly friendly and just plain nice most people are to strangers. Didn't their mothers teach them basic safety rules? I know, it shouldn't have surprised me, especially since I'm mostly talking to other writers, but it did.

I was equally surprised by the concern expressed by my "imaginary friends" about my time spent twittering. I found this ironic coming from a community of friends with whom I have chatted away VAST amounts of time in blogland. A part of me acknowledges their point: time spent twittering is time not spent writing fiction. And they’ve been hounding steadfastly cheering me on all along, wanting me to finish the damn book already. So they can buy it. And read it. Certainly can't fault them for that. I love my imaginary friends; they're completely awesome even when they mistakenly think I still have a curfew.

But the biggest surprise, and the reason I will continue to twitter, is the effect it has had on my creativity and productivity. I expected twittering to be awkward and confusing. It is. I expected some people to ignore me. They have. I expected it to be a chore I would quickly grow to despise and then abandon. Instead, it has become a source of laughter and camaraderie. Also information overload, but that's another post.

I have a dry sarcastic sense of humour that, even in person, is easily misinterpreted and can come across as . . . something less than amusing. I've experienced the pitfalls of this in both email and blog comments. I figured the potential for disaster when limited to 140 characters was almost unavoidable. Really, I've lost track of the number of times I've offended people who took me seriously when I was kidding.

So I don't think of myself as someone who is funny. But a few fellow twitterers seem to think I am. I mentioned this oddity to my daughter, who said, "Of course you're funny." She then informed me that she sometimes reads my emails to her friends, who all think I'm hysterical. Not sure what I think about that. The last email I sent her pretty much said, "Be Careful Whitewater Rafting This Weekend."

The point of this long rambling post is that I've realized that making people laugh, and more generally evoking an emotional response, is my own personal crack cocaine. Using words, twisting them and playing with them, is my favourite game. If things get a bit risqué, even better. Finding people who appreciate that game and will play along in the spirit of light-hearted fun is invigorating.

So for now at least, Twitter has become my place to play. I'd forgotten how much I need that, how imperative playfulness is to imagination. At a time when I have been floundering and frustrated with my writing, re-discovering the ability to use words to evoke a response from and connect with people who don't know me has sparked my creativity. I have made more progress on my ms in the past two weeks than I had in the past two months.

Some writers need doom and gloom and angst and despair to inspire their writing, using misery as their muse. I'm not writing comedy but I've discovered that I need laughter, my own and that of others. Twitter is still at times awkward and confusing, some people still ignore me and I'm sure many more will (the wise ones, at any rate), but it is fueling my creativity like nothing else has in a very long time. And that surprised the hell out of me.

What feeds your creativity? We're all creative in some way. Do you know what does it for you? Laughter, music, solitude, open spaces? Fritos?

Oh, and if you haven't watched the TED talk given by Sir Ken Robinson about creativity, you should. It's excellent and can be found here


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is nothing like humor to brighten a day.The first library book I remember reading was full of the funny antics of animals. The books I read today with touches of humor are the ones I enjoy the most.

Keep up with the writing. I want to read that book you are writing.

Louis

BCB said...

Louis, you're a sweetheart. Thank you. Hope you read something today that makes you smile.

Slave Driver said...

"some people still ignore me"

A lot of people ignore me, (one in particular, but we met in person and I am who I am, which is boisterous and outgoing with limited verbal self editing skills, and he is not, so I am sure I rubbed him the wrong way. So he compensates by pretending I'm just not there...(grin>)

But you know what? I'm okay with that, because of the whole "Fly on the wall" effect. I still don't totally understand Twitter, and mostly my question is this?

Why would anyone want to follow me? So when I get notification that *someone* is following me I look at their profile and if they are 1) wearing a skimpy outfit and lonely or 2) gushing about the benefits of a spectacular new "Diet Water" I block.

Why? Because I did not sign up for this to get more spam.

Wow, that was a lot for me to write so early and I have not yet had an entire cup of coffee...

Libunswa: a country in sub-sahara Africa where their major exports are Donuts and bowling pins.

Merry said...

Hounding? Us? Moi?
[innocent look]

BCB, hon, go with whatever helps your creativity. I can see both blogs and twitter being either huge time sinks or places to go when you need to recharge your batteries.

One cure I found for mild depression was to read things such as Virginia Woolf's diaries. She was surrounded by highly creative people; everyone she know had published a book or had paintings in a gallery or was a professional dancer, etc. Being around people (even vicariously) for whom it was second nature to express their creativity was a tremendous lift to the spirits. If twitter makes you feel like that, go for it!

iness -- the state of being "in", one of the popular crowd

(I want to visit Slave Driver's African country with the donughts)

Keziah Fenton said...

Following some people amuses me. Following others educates me. Being followed? Probably a good idea from a marketing standpoint but I don't have much information to share that isn't already on my blog. I would never ignore you, BCB. You never fail to make me think.

Merry said...

I also want to learn how to spell doughnuts.

costoned - when you're hit over the head with the high price of things

Diane (TT) said...

Merry, you seem to be making excellent progress with your spelling. I just with I could EAT them.

I have WAY too many time sinks, and very little seems to fuel my creativity - except feeling like I have time to fool around and try things. So, it doesn't happen often, and the results aren't always positive, but it is fun, so whatever keeps you going, BCB!

reosit: a remote control by which children's energy can be dialed down so they will settle on the floor.

Anonymous said...

I came, I read, I de-cloaked. Anything else I can do now I am here?? :)

cbpen

ouslonti: a gaelic toast

McB said...

Of course you're funny. Just being in a car with you gets me hysterical. And sometimes I laugh, too.

Fisti: when you really want to be fiesty, but can't quite manage it.

Merry said...

Eggs
Eggs Eggs
Eggs Eggs Eggs
Eggs Eggs Eggs Eggs
Eggs Eggs Eggs Eggs Eggs
Eggs Eggs Eggs Eggs Eggs Eggs


damn... outta eggs... must come back later...

Anonymous said...

"What feeds your creativity?"

Umm, I'm sorry...

But you asked...

CRAFTS.

{Ducking letter opener}

~Cary

Anonymous said...

I was just recently reminded how much music can play into my creativity/mood. I was mostly reminded about how adding music to your film scene changes everything completely. (I was, for two years, in film classes...and I was good. :) ) There was one short film I did that had scenes that, without the music, became sweetly corny (if that is possible), but with the music became a joke for the audience.

Music really can bolster me* into writing, and I need to remember that.

- Imaginary OH :)

logings: Yes, also logings. Those trees really do it for me*

BCB said...

Geez. Go to work, come home and find this mess-- um, I mean, mass of words.

Slave Driver, I have NO IDEA why anyone would follow me either. But until I hear otherwise, I am going to assume it's because I am gorgeous and intelligent and sexy and, yes, even funny. If they want to wear beach attire while doing so, well, that fits right in with my opinion of their lack of good judgment. (BTW, if you talk to Barry Eisler, some very tough-looking people will think you are worthy of their attention.)

Merry, I see you have rather quickly devolved from Virginia Woolf to doughnuts to egging the place. Thank you for feeling free to express your creativity. ;)

CBPen! You have a cloaking device?! I want one. To throw over Cary and her CRAFTS.

Keziah and Diane, you both are underestimating yourselves -- in terms of creativity and having something to say. Knock it off.

McB, do you realize we have never actually been in a car together? With all the trips we've taken, that just seems wrong.

I love the word verifications. One of the things I miss about Him & Her's blog.

BCB said...

And OH too! When watching movies together, my dad always used to say that when you heard the French horns, you knew something bad was going to happen.

I can't write with music unless it's turned so low I can barely hear it -- like white noise. But listening to it is invigorating. Today I was out at lunchtime, flipping through radio channels, and listened to two AC/DC songs back-to-back: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Thunderstruck. I'm not a huge AC/DC fan, but sometimes it's just right. When played loud enough. Psyched me up enough to actually go back to the office for the rest of the day.

Scope Dope Cherrybomb said...

Boy, you are weird, ain't cha? I have no idea what those songs are but any rock music played loud is too much for my delicate lobes. Give me some good Strauss waltzes or Josh Grobin.
But--if you want to talk loud play "Master of the House" from Les Miserables. I play that full volume while I dance around the room. That invigorates me and helps me creatively only for quilting or sewing. Oops! Sorry about swearing on your blog.

When writing I can't have any outside noise, not even soothing music.

rulgan-too vulgar a word to pass my sweet li...fingers.

McB said...

You know, realty probably wouldn't measure up.

Bethsts. As opposed to marysts or susansts.

BCB said...

*snort*

Neither would reality.

Scope, I'll thank you to keep that filthy talk away from my blog. Sheesh. I'm trying to run a decent craft-free place here.

Scope Dope Cherrybomb said...

Okay no more "crafty, dirty talk". Darn. Oops there's another one, although people don't darn things anymore do they?

Left you a message in my blog comments.

impicut-I might've put important crafts under "Treasures". (dumb I know but I tried.)

WapakGram said...

"I have a dry sarcastic sense of humour.."

Noticed that in the first blog post you ever made on HWSW. Love it in person. Waiting to read it in the book.

You are like Jenny. I'll read your damn grocery list just for the entertainment value.

And I HAVE been in the car with you and it was more fun than the law allows.

I love that twitter recharges you. Everybody has their thing.

I have to have a couple days of winding down and then finding the quiet place inside to draw from. Not too many opportunities lately!

gumes- what people have to hold their teeth in.