Writer’s Challenge: What is the Opposite of Creativity?

Image: RikScott

Since I have been issuing challenges to writers for some time, now, I thought it might be appropriate to formalize the process.  Here, then, is our first official “Writer’s Challenge”.    

What is the Opposite of Creativity?    

Quick-witted that you are, you might say something like, un-creativity, (not very creative, so, maybe that works), or as we’re talking, as always, about writing, perhaps you would say “Writer’s Block”.    

But that isn’t what I’m talking about.  No, in this case I’m actually edging over to the idea of Brainstorming, what it (really) is, how it is done, and when to do it.    

At first look, brainstorming is just a group of people getting together—often with a leader, or facilitator—for the purpose of generating as many ideas as possible in a short time.    

In our case, at least for most of us, brainstorming is sitting at a keyboard and thinking until bullets of blood pop out of our foreheads… or some such thing.    

Fair warning: when we attempt to brainstorm, to come up with a “knock their socks off” idea, we often resort to weak method.    

In my series of articles on creating your own world, I warn that “…just doing the opposite of X…” isn’t really brainstorming.  When you use opposites to formulate a character, a story-line, or any component of your work, you are setting yourself up.    

Opposite is a thin disguise for laziness, one that your readers will see through.    

Now, waitaminnit, you say you can never…  Whoa!  Hold ‘er, Knute.  Never is a harsh word.    

Using opposites as an idea starter is an excellent idea.  It is only bad when you just turn something around and use it without thinking of the possible fallout.  Yes, indeed, think opposites, but then take it a step or six further.  Think about where the opposite (something) would lead if given free rein.  Think about how people would react to this opposite.  

Brainstorming is a good thing.  Using “what isn’t” against “what is”, is a tried and true method for creating a good idea.  Got that?  Good.   

Now, here’s the challenge: Think up a way to use an opposite to enhance your writing.  Keep in mind that a simple mirror-image is seldom good enough (note that seldom does not mean never), and share with us your idea.  

Your thoughts?

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9 responses to “Writer’s Challenge: What is the Opposite of Creativity?

  1. Wow! i’ve been to the hospital for a pulmonary function test, walked all the way up to my favorite second hand book store, come home and find that I’m the first to post.
    Gives me cause to brainstorm – maybe take up your idea.
    How about on the book I just bought: ‘Fleeing the Universal’ which is a critique of the Post Modern (read in anti-rationalism, anti-intellectualism, New Age, new historicism, and the rest of the ism’s.) So who is being ‘creative’. The new age and the accent on ‘differance’, and the Spirit within, and adaptation of all prior rational knowledge to the needs of the moment,
    read now. Or was there actually some creativity before this new pragmatism descended upon us.
    It’s really interesting living it, as it is one of the options explored in my writing. Except I’ve held ontol two things, my irony, and my sense of analysis, both of which get me into trouble with the new age. But for creativity, I think there has to be humor as well as the serious, which means I will keep my irony, even if sometimes it’s discerned to be mean – as I said we all see ‘different’ negatives, or does differance only apply according to our own lights. And I’ll keep my analysis, because sometimes it can confront anti-rationalism, with an anti-rationalism of it’s own especially when combined with the humor/meanness.
    In other words, creativity has to have something to do with creating something new out of opposites, and rising above them, transcending them, if you will allow that word, and thus often incorporating the negative, (by way often of the villain in the story).
    So sometimes, would it be possible to be too creative, and forget about the rational in a sweep of fantastic idealism, that does not in the long run pan out with realities of the world, or of the heart (taking into consideration a community).
    Is rationality has become an ‘isn’t – what then ‘is’? to use (in a pragmatic way) of course, your phrase that was to be our challenge, as above.
    P.S. I don’t believe that post-modernism, New Age, (‘differance’) may strive to be an opposite of modernism – rationalism and the need to find identity. But this is not a mere condemnation……. Possibly it is still, a period of disorientation in a search for something ‘new’ , or has it has also been characterized, symptomatic of the Decline of the West, etc. etc. etc. There sure are lots of theories, so we may be assured that something is happening.
    .

    • Just not convinced that it is always ‘creative’…….grin grin.
      (Hope you can get through all my typos…..my apologies- wrote on spur of the moment. I haven’t got a feed-back after all, so what can you expect from someone ‘on their own’, grin grin.

    • You haven’t gotten feedback? Hmm. Would that be a “never”?

      In any event, you’ve made some good points (above).
      As I postulated, using opposites (or negative properties) isn’t always bad, but using them and going no furhter, ah, that’s the rub. But then, isn’t that what you just said?

      • Sorry, Richard. I didn’t mean offense about the feedback? Like there’s a perfectly good example before me. It was my irony again….I’m expecting more, maybe cause if I was able to run a ‘good’ blog, I would certainly feel I could benefit from the comments. I was actually thinking of yesterdays Blogosphere post. Yes my mind was in the past!!!!! Like thank you for being here and thank you for me being here. I love to ‘feed’ off your posts. You always give me something to think about.
        Thank you, Richard.
        And yes, that is perhaps the difficulty with the New Age/ Post Modern anti-intellectualism, etc. It may be trying to hard to ‘be an opposite’……

  2. It’s just that ideas, and cultural values, etc. just don’t work like electrical circuits. What is a positive from one perspective can be a negative from the other, and vice versa. Perspective, in other words, comes into it……But then if you renamed the electrical charges, the ‘labels’ would have ‘opposite’ values…. grin grin. In this respect Derrida has something to say when he speaks about ‘differance’.

  3. Sorry, Richard. I’m off again. It’s just that since Hegel’s thesis, antithesis, synthesis, philosophers have picked up on the ‘power of the negative’. Jesus said ‘love thy enemies’. It has been proved to me, anyway, that this is the only way to overcome. that is through integration. And then onto an ever-evolving new thesis. These are not just words. It’s not always possible to see how it works out in history, in a person’s life, and in fact though. And who knows what the ‘higher thesis’, this time round will entail. It’s just that I can’t believe that the New Age holds the final solution. Marxism didn’t. Fascism, didn’t and I don’t think the Zeitgeist or the spirit of this Age will either.

    • Personally, I don’t believe in a final solution… and I hope I’m right. What I expect is so is that every age will have its “sages” who think they’ve got it, but, like standing on the shoulders of giants, will be superceded eventually by people who can see a bit further. For me, that leaves the world, and life always open to new ideas, new vistas. )

      • Thank you for putting it so well, Richard. Yes. I truly believe that the task is to remain open. Or to work at doing that. If you’re not open, even to the negative, you might miss something that needs to be ‘integrated’. Yes?
        (This doesn’t mean to leave yourself open to such things as abuse, etc. etc. etc. (you have to know when to run!) so it’s another ‘delicate’ operation, as is the task of ‘getting through life’ generally. Thank you. Richard. I enjoyed this ‘conversation.

  4. Pingback: Top 10 Posts – Ninth Edition « Uphill Writing

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