20 May 2016

The Creative Process: Reviewing and Reflecting

Being an immigrant from China, I can relate to the short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan, which I read recently. My relationship with my mother has deteriorated over the past ten years. She has put lots of pressure on me to get married and have kids, a different kind of expectation from the mother in “Two Kinds”, but it is basically the same as the narrator in “Two Kinds” points out: “For unlike my mother, I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I could only be me.”

In her TED Talk on “Where Does Creativity Hide”, Tan discusses her writing process and the creativity that goes into her work. Her talk sheds light on her writing process that may be applicable to other writers: start from real-life experiences; pay attention to those moments when ideas seem to pop up from nowhere; and use imagination to create a world full of believable characters and events.

Tan also points out that the process of writing is a combination of conscious effort and serendipity. Do not over think what the piece is about, just keep writing and see where it will take you. This is the opposite of what I usually do. I tend to have a detailed outline and know what it is about before I start. Now I’d like to let myself loose and not to adhere to the outline too rigidly. I hope to surprise myself more often especially in areas like character development and narrative arc in my current and future writings.

If you have any thoughts and reflections on your own writing process and like to share, I’d love to hear it.

And in the immortal words of a fellow writer: “WRITE AND KEEP ON WRITING!”