Many writers, philosophers, poets, artists, mystics and psychologists have sought to define and understand the creative process. In ancient times creative expression was attributed to a visitation from the Muses - the nine sister Goddesses, offspring of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Following on from my post CREATIVE RESPONDING are some accounts of this process which I believe demonstrate the field theoretical nature of creative genius and encourage a humility in creative endeavours. I offer them for your enjoyment...
"When I feel well and in good humour, or when I am taking a drive or walking after a good meal, or in a night when I cannot sleep, thoughts crowd into my mind as easily as you could wish. Where do they come from? I do not know and I have nothing to do with it.
Those which please me I keep in my head and hum them; at least others have told me that I do so. Once I have my theme, another melody comes linking itself with the first one in accordance with the needs of the composition as a whole; the counterpoint, the parts for each instrument and all the melodic fragments at last produce the complete work.
Then my soul is on fire with inspiration. The work grows; I keep expanding it conceiving more and more clearly until I have the entire composition finished in my head although it may be long. Then my mind seizes it, as a glance of my eye would a beautiful picture or a handsome youth. It does not come to me successively, with various parts worked out in detail, as they will later on, but it is in its entirety that my imagination lets me hear it."
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
This process experienced by Mozart is almost identical to that described by Wilson Van Dusen a gestalt therapist and mystic who worked alongside Fritz Perls and Carl Rogers (amongst others). He writes
"I often write from beyond myself, surprised at the rich flow of thought and turn of phrase. For days before I begin I sense inner concerns formulating themselves. Suddenly I know I ready to write because sentences and ideas whirl around in my head. I'm accustomed to it now. That's how it is. I'd be quite unable to take full credit for it. Influx. It is given. Life is given. Sensation given. Its all given."
Wilson Van Dusen
Such descriptions of the creative process have been given by many other writers, including Steven King the horror story writer and comedians such as Robin Williams. Actors also describe a very similar process -
"Whether you are writing, singing painting or whatever, your objective is to feel liberated. So the less intellectual conscious thought that you are having at the time you are actually working, the better. You have to look for ways of elaborating, of expanding, of illuminating your imagination to get at that wellspring which is your unconscious.
In acting you are constantly trying to get out of the way and serve as a conduit to let this other person come through. That is a frustration because you are here and you do have that constant chatter of your intellect and you do have your own problems and joys, but what you really want to do is let those aspects of yourself go quite. You pray for that loss of consciousness because it is a great feeling."
"When I return home I do at least 90 minutes on my next script. I'm very methodical and get different coloured pens and mark each line. I number each line one to four as I learn them, putting an asterisk at each fifth line. I don't know why exactly but it seems to work. I go through the lines, perhaps twenty or thirty of them, again and again until I know them.
Then I start on the next set. But by then the words have started doing something in my subconscious and images appear. I know it sounds mad, but there's something whispering to me and I get a photographic image in my mind's eye of the guy I'm playing. For Hannibal Lecter I suddenly saw someone who had a round head and slicked back hair, who never blinks and moves like a cat."
And finally, one of my favourite quotes come from a survivor of the Holocaust...
"The creative process is a strange one: it comes from solitude, it goes to solitude and yet it is a meeting between two solitudes. It is just like a man's solitude faced with God's solitude. Once you have this confrontation, you have art and religion and more. You have a certain communion in the best and purest sense of the word. Exactly the same thing happens when you write and someone reads you; your solitude is faced with the reader's and you join with that solitude. When both are sincere, God is there. Whenever one man speaks to another, ultimately he involves God."