Independent vs collaborative creative processes.

I know a song-writer who divides his creative process in two parts. 1) Creating, which he does alone, and 2) Editing, which he does with others, and in a separate room from the one he creates in. I used to think this a bit weird, but more and more I think its a great idea.

I bring this up because all to often I see writers talk about their craft as if they are doing it all alone. Yet every other art form I’ve done (both professionally and as a hobby) has used both an independent creative process and a collaborative creative process. Usually, like my song-writer acquaintance above, the initial creative process is done independently, while the editing is done collaboratively. But even the independent part of the creative process, (Bog, is there a better word than “independent” to describe working alone?) is not really working alone, at least for me. When I write my ideas come from all around me. Something said to me earlier that day might make its way into the story, or a joke I overheard, or something I witnessed on the bus. And that’s not counting the hundreds of novels and stories I’ve read over the years. Surely some of that works its way into everything I write.

And once you get to editing a novel (and I’m not just talking copy-editing here) then the story goes from independent to collaborative. An author writes, but where would their novel be if there weren’t promoters, and printers, book-jacket designers and art directors, publishers and even readers? All of these people make up a successful novel, not just the author. I think its time we authors start admitting this. Our stories are more than just the sum of their parts.

 

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