Friday, June 8, 2012

Creativity -- Part III

This is the final post in a multi-part blog series where I have explored creativity. In the first post, I ventured the concepts of creativity and whether or not such a concept could be taught. In the following post, I brought in friend, fellow writer, and esoteric artist Z.M. Wilmot to guest blog what people accessed when using creativity. Now, I bring in another blogger, friend, and fellow writer to address the final question I had conjured at the end of the first blog.

I met Sandra Bunino through Twitter. She is a contemporary Romance author and we made each other's acquaintances when I asked her what it took to make a good romance. Since then, we have kept in touch. I've since shared with her my more 'polished' works and she has (and continues) to be more than happy to read my material and give me honest advice from a reader standpoint. I'm proud to have met her and shared my work with her. She has been a good source of honest and supportive feedback. I'm proud to have her guest blog for me.

So, here's Sandra's guest post.


How important is education to art and creativity?

I probably flip-flopped more on this topic than a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. Here’s why - I’ve known some truly talented and amazingly creative writers who’ve completed their education at a high school level.  Personally, I have a graduate business degree. Has my MBA made me a better romance writer? I don’t recall the course “Alpha Heroes 101” as a prerequisite to “How to Write a Smokin’ Hot Sex Scene” in my schedule of classes. I believe there would be a waiting list for those… smokin’ hot sex vs. cost accounting…hmm.

Okay, so my answer is…yes. Education does matter when it comes to art and creativity but not in the way you might expect. It’s not about what you’ve learned in various classes but in the people and experiences you’ve encountered throughout your education. For example, the frustration you overcame trying to follow the direction of your brilliant Chinese Calculus professor who you couldn’t understand due to a very heavy accent; the motivational impact the blind student with a guide dog in Anthropology had on you; the excitement that raged inside when you attended your first student protest; the fear of studying abroad and landing smack in the middle of a country where no one understands your simple question of “where the hell is the bathroom?” – these life experiences shaped you and your perception of the world.

Does this mean education and creativity can only be achieved in a formal classroom? Absolutely not! You don’t need to be a student to be educated or to be creative. As long as you keep an open mind and stay receptive to new experiences, learning and creativity is a continuous process.

Education makes you think outside the box. It makes you take a stand on a controversial topic. A good education will take you out of your comfort zone. A great education will empower you to go out there and do something that scares the shit out of you every day. That’s how we develop, expand and grow as writers and artists.

Here are my top ten ways to be creative:
10. Surround yourself with creative people
9. Sleep
8. Write what you know
7. Don’t be afraid to learn what you don’t know
6. Don’t compare your talent and style with others
5. Don’t force your writing
4. Travel or mix up your daily routine
3. Have fun
2. Finish what you’re writing (even if it never sees the light of day)
1. Do something that scares the shit out of you every day.

That’s the end of your lesson and guess what? You have homework! Your assignment: find something that paralyzes you with fear, something that you’ve avoided and in the words of a famous marketing campaign…just do it!


Author Bio:
Sandra Bunino is an author of contemporary sensual romance. Her books include MAROONED IN MIAMI, SARA’S SMILE, and the soon to be released LUSTED IN LAS VEGAS.

Connect with Sandra here:
Email: sbunino (at) gmail (dot) com


  1. Thanks for having me as a guest blogger today, Jake!

    Keep the creative juices flowing!


  2. Loved this post, Sandra. You are exactly right. If I had starting out writing out of high school, I'd have had the creativity, but not the experience to make what I was writing believable :) Education and experience do matter!
    Will FB now!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Tara. Exactly. Life experience adds richness and validity to our writing.

  3. Part 1 of 2!

    Tara, I am going to make exactly the opposite argument. When you speak of education leading to creativity, I think what you really mean is that the experiences that you accumulate WITHIN the ENVIRONMENT in which you are receiving your "edumucation" is what is really shaping your creativity!

    Will a couple of courses in college help your writing? Absolutely! A few writing courses will obviously polish the technical side of your writing skills: grammar, punctuation, the currently accepted conventions of editing and proofreading. Your courses in Physiology or 18th century Kazhakstani History will certainly help you write with confident authority in fleshing out realistic details in your stories. And of course, delving into different genres will always give you a broad, if not necessarily deep survey of what's possible.

    But will a formal education TRULY enhance your creativity? Will it really help you to think "outside of the box"? I'm afraid MY answer to both questions is no. You'd best believe that somewhere on some college a college IS offering classes such as “Alpha Heroes 101” as a prerequisite to “How to Write a Smokin’ Hot Sex Scene” Really?? HOW TO?...what classes like these do is essentially "educate" you on what is currently "acceptable", what "convention" DICTATES, what is TRENDING. If anything courses like these will teach you to think WITHIN the box.

    In my personal opinion, what is college really but showing that you are willing to show that you are willing to learn the rules of the world, so when you go out to merge into the professional world that you have chosen, or more realistically been forced to settle into because let's face it, a paycheck is a paycheck....your brain has not been trained to be creative. You are training to learn to adapt, to conform, to "fit in" to the established society that has been built for you be it at work or at home in suburbia.

    As an "educated" individual, the courses you have taken expose you to what has already been learned by others. You are expected to carry on that knowledge, not build new knowledge from scratch. The knowledge you are learning has already been created from forerunners, CREATIVE people no doubt who ironically were not formally trained.

  4. Part 2 of 2!

    Take JRR Tolkien for instance. Okay, he WAS educated, but he used it to his advantage. He had knowledge of obscure medieval languages structure and was able to translate equally obscure texts, on his own. Now he did it as a scholarly hobby. In turn, he created his own make-believe Elvish languages, and a fictional world full of characters to speak his made-up languages. Next thing you know, he has made up a fictional historical record of a so-called Middle Earth. Next thing you know, he has written 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

    Did his formal education help push his creativity. I would say NO. It gave him access to literary tools and knowledge to draw from, and arguable the luxury of free time throughout his career
    to pursue his interest. But I will very well argue that his CREATIVITY did not come from his experience as a student on a college campus, but from his raw EXPERIENCE as a soldier in World War I!!! After the war, as a survivor, he had the talent and the ability to process all those thoughts and emotions that he drew from those experiences into his writings.

    On the other hand, a modern-day student, his own grandson perhaps who too a class entitled "Rules and Conventions of the High-Fantasy genre". In fact, research the submissions guidelines of the biggest publishers in New York City. This is exactly what you will find. Authors wanted who cater to what THEY have established as guidelines, guidelines that did not exist until Tolkien had the originality to create them and others established his work as the mold to follow.
    Take also into consideration that when Tolkien went to school, there were no Business classes that he could have taken such as "Marketing a Line of Toys based on Your Books" or "Making a Successful Movie Pitch to Hollywood". guess who do offer and take those classes now? Bingo!

    Thus, the perceived lack of creativity in Hollywood. Talented college-grad screenwriters may have the most brilliant idea for a revolutionary movie. Will it ever even make it past initial pitching? If they're in the right place, at the right time, and know someone who knows someone who's sister is dating the cousin of one of "the right people." Maybe. But most likely, probably not because who's really in charge? College grads as well, except these majored in Business and Accounting and many other majors who did not go to school to be creative but to learn how to make MONEY. and in the end, isn't that the only creativity that seems to be truly valued? Creativity to make money..aka "entrepreneurship."

    My bottom line? Experience whether in college, in the military, or who knows just flipping burgers will always be a source of creativity for whoever wants to do something with it. A formal education alone? Not so much. Unless you're a law school or med grad writing the next legal/medical thriller. Then maybe.

    1. Wow, Riki, thank you for that very thought provoking response to my post (I assume you were addressing me and not Tara, the commenter above you?)!

      I think we are saying the same thing. Yes, education gives you the tools and resources to stretch the creative areas of your gray matter but experiences will contribute perception and depth to your work.

      I wish you much success and thanks for your comment!

    2. This is great. A well thought out response.

      I too believe that education overall means very little when it comes to creativity. As much as I'm enjoying the college experience, I know it's a system of conformity, and that what I learn from future creative writing classes will have to be taken with a grain of salt because in such classes (and even seminars) there's a lot of bullshit being slung around. Such classes are more concerned with teaching the rules and conventions of the craft, something I've never been a fan of.

      Experience rules over all else.

      Thank you for the comment! It's the best one I've gotten yet! Cheers! :D

  5. My education comes from life mostly. I just won't stop exploring, learning, figuring things out. I think that's the most important gift we can give ourselves: the determination to never grow stagnant in life.

    1. Absolutely, Traci, sometimes its hard to stay motivated but perseverance pays off in the end. I checked out your site, much luck with your writing. Stick with it, you'll be happy you did. :-)