Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Process of Creativity

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I’m very interested in the process of creativity. I think sometimes that the story of how or why something was written is more interesting than the writing itself. I guess it just depends on my mood.

Have you ever listened to commentary on a DVD? I listen to a lot of commentary. (Well, that’s not entirely true, because I don’t watch a lot of movies, but often when I do, I’ll listen to the commentary as well.) The commentary I like best is the type that talks mostly about the behind the scenes stories, the less pretentious the better. It’s really weird to me how some commentaries can lack information and entertainment, and some are just as entertaining as the movie.

I think sometimes that people do get secretive, and I get it. I write many things that I never plan to explain. It feels sometimes like it takes the wind out of the sails. But stories about the process don’t always have to give away secrets about meaning or anything like that.

I’ll tell you an odd truth. Sometimes I choose what to work on based on how interesting the explanation of the project will be. I wrote a sketch during Season One of “According To Whim” called “Subtlety.” It’s a very long, very dry sketch. If you can follow the dialogue, there is a little philosophical thought to be had. I doubt I will ever rank it up there as one of our best sketches. What I will say though is that there is a relatively interesting story about the process that went into its creation. I reference Calvin and Hobbes and their sled rides where they discuss deeply philosophical life things. This was my way of doing one of those comic strips as a sketch. Furthermore, the end of the sketch references a sketch from the show I did with Miguel where I told four jokes that all had the same punch line, which is all “Subtlety” is.

Much the same can be said about the “Temp Worker” sketch, which was an idea I had based on creating a week worth of four panel comic strips. We only did five days since it was supposed to be a work week. I used Scott Adams’s model of the six factors of humour to create the situations and punch lines. Read “The Joy of Work” by Scott Adams if you’re interested in what I’m talking about. The book in general is just Dilbert goofiness, but the section I’m talking about is one of the most interesting reads I’ve found about the process of creating humour.

I’m not saying that nothing is worth doing without an interesting story about the process. I’m simply saying that sometimes choosing a work that has a story behind its creation can be a good way to choose what to do.

One story about process that is very relevant here is that sometimes rather than coming up with an idea that can be written or otherwise created, I will instead try to come up with a different way that something can be created. Sometimes you end up with gimmicks by doing that, and you certainly want to avoid that when possible, but if you have a truly good idea, then go for it.

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