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Writing Matters: Creative Writing Activities
Activity 2 - Inspiration
Without readers, archival documents such as literary manuscripts remain dormant and forgotten. Readers bring these documents to life by connecting them to their personal interests. The creative process is an organic development that requires imaginative connections with "neural and electrical messages rippling the whole into dynamic patterns." (R.W. Gerard, "The Biological Basis of Imagination," in The Creative Process: A Symposium, 1965, p. 246)
Students will be guided in this site search by activities centred on three basic principles of creativity: information, inspiration and invention.
"I do not believe that inspiration falls from heaven. I think it rather the result of a profound indolence and of our incapacity to put to work certain forces in ourselves. These unknown forces work deep within us, with the aid of the elements of daily life, its scenes and passions...."
- Jean Cocteau, "The Process of Inspiration,"
Jean Cocteau suggests that inspiration forces itself upon us, even against our will. The creative work "makes itself in us and in spite of us demands to be born." (p. 82) Before the conscious act of writing takes place, we need to slumber in our "indolence." Inspiration is the stage before the conscious act: "To write, to conquer ink and paper, accumulate letters and paragraphs, divide them with periods and commas, is a different matter from carrying around the dream of a play or of a book." (Jean Cocteau, in The Creative Process: A Symposium, p. 82)
Optional Exercise: A Writer's Inspiration
The following passages are taken from works written by the writers introduced on the Canadian Writers website. By reading the following passages carefully for clues, students should be able to detect a source for the author's writing within the manuscript galleries. Ideas, like dreams, have many disguises, and they may not wish to reveal themselves. Besides content, students should look for clues of style and tone. Above all, students will learn to appreciate the writers' insights into the human condition.