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Podcast Transcript: Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie welcoming you to episode #29 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.
Today’s episode – which discusses how creative writing can give you a great perspective on problem solving above and beyond storytelling – is sponsored by The Adulteress. This is the biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion through an often-overlooked perspective: the woman caught in adultery.
Jesus saved her from unquestionable condemnation and execution – from rocks being hurled at her head and her body until neither could handle any more. Rescued from that kind of fate, don’t you think she would have been there with him when he died? When he was with her in what seemed like her last breaths?
And what about before those dramatic moments? What led her to commit adultery in the first place? What was her past like… her husband like… the man she gave herself away to? Did she love him, or was he merely a way to drown her sorrows? The Adulteress is this woman’s story, available on Amazon through the link I’ll provide in this episode’s description section
As for this episode’s contents, we’re winding down our series about what you can learn through creative writing. Last week’s focus was on the confidence boost creative writers – particularly novelists – can get when they start a story and finish it. There’s a lot of work involved in that process, but it’s very worthwhile work that helps us recognize how we do have the ability and stamina necessary to accomplish big things.
It also allows us to gain significant problem-solving skills, which makes sense once you think about it.
Earlier this year, back in early February, I believe, the BBC ran an article titled, “The Hidden Benefits of Creativity.” In it, they gave insights into a Kevin Yu, the founder of SideChef, which is apparently a home-cooking app that includes more than 11,000 how-to recipe-centered videos.
Don’t ask me if it’s a worthwhile corporation. I know nothing about it other than the details I read about its founder in this article. So this is not a review of his service one way or the other. It is only a commentary on what he said within the context of this article.
Which, for the record, is very interesting.
According to him, he problem-solves the best when his mind “is able to solve challenging problems in… fictional simulations…” And he adds how it’s “great training for the unpredictable challenges a start-up encounters on a daily basis.”
I want to read a little bit of this fascinating article, because his isn’t an isolated phenomenon.
Yu is far from alone when it comes to tapping into the power of creative thinking. Those who study workplace culture say that regularly carving out time for free thinking and creative endeavors can have an outsized impact on career success. Even a 15-minute opportunity for creative work or a well-timed distraction can have long-lasting benefits such as more innovative ideas and the ability to stand out on the job.
“Creativity appears to be an important component of problem-solving and other cognitive abilities, healthy social and emotional well-being, and scholastic and adult success," according to data from creativity researcher Dr. Jonathan Plucker, a talent development professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. For instance, a recent survey of 1,700 CEOs found that more than 60% said creativity was the most critical skill in securing a leadership position. For employees, creativity along with collaboration, communication and flexibility were the most critical factors to future success, according to the data.
Nor is that the only bit of research done on the benefits of letting your imagination come out to play. McDaniel College over in Maryland adds that:
One of the first benefits [of creative writing] is that it helps to develop creative problem-solving skills. Creative writing is an exercise in solving problems, either for the characters within the story or for the author [himself]. Characters within stories need to be navigated through a series of difficulties, and if the problems take place in the real world, then the solutions must also be real-world solutions… By navigating fictional characters through difficult times in their lives, either emotionally or financially, writers can learn how to handle those problems in the real world as well, without the stress of trying to figure it out when they’re already in the middle of the situation.
I love that larger quote, but I do take one issue with it since it seems to specify real-world-based fiction. As in, it has to be historical fiction or literary fiction or thrillers or some such reality-based writing in order to teach you a thing or two in this regard. But the thing is that all fiction – or at least very nearly all fiction – is going to be based on reality in the end, no matter how far-flung into the galaxies or fantastical realms it might be. It’s impossible for us to write about characters that aren’t based on human personalities and human emotions. Those are what we know.
They’re all that we know!
Therefore, if we’re dealing with human personalities and human emotions, they’re ultimately going to be dealing with human problems: overcoming fear, finding true love, proving their worth, spreading the truth, exploring new realms, etc., etc., etc. Think about any down-to-basics plot you want, and it’s going to be the same story of humans figuring out how to deal with life.
In short then, it doesn’t matter what fiction genre you’re working with, except for perhaps theatre of the absurd. If you’re helping your characters work out problems – which is what a plot always is – then you’re setting yourself up for success in other areas as well.
Which ties in very nicely with our next two points. Which we’ll cover next Monday and the Monday after that. Sorry to leave you hanging, but thank you so much for tuning in this time around. And I can’t wait to delve into the rest of it when the time comes. Until then, thanks for being part of The Genuine Writer Podcast. Very happy writing and problem-solving too!