Is Creativity Contagious?

Greetings! I’m at the 2011 New England conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and I’m looking forward to two days of keynote speakers, writing workshops, and networking. Tonight I attended the conference orientation (as well as a hilarious cabaret performance), and being surrounded by so many people who are passionate about children’s literature got me thinking–is creativity contagious? What about motivation? Inspiration? Success?

I think we all know that success isn’t contagious, or else…oops, my bad–I was just about to make an inappropriate joke about Charlie Sheen and the company he keeps. I’ll refrain.

But seriously, research has shown that smiling can be contagious, and I think most people would agree that it’s hard not to laugh when you’re surrounded by laughter, or to feel excited when the air in a room is practically humming. If mood states can be catching, I wonder if simply being in close proximity to like-minded people can help get one’s creative juices going. (I certainly hope so!)

I’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of the weekend unfolds–and although I might not be able to predict what will happen the next time my pen touches the page, one evening in the company of these fabulous authors and illustrators has already given me the itch to sit down and write. So I consider that a pretty good start. 🙂

Another good quote…

“I don’t believe in it. All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”

~Philip Pullman (answering the question, ‘What do you do about writer’s block?’)


I feel like this quote is particularly relevant to my current situation. I’m on the brink of starting the sequal to my young adult fantasy novel, but I’m having a hard time getting the first words down on the page. Still, I wouldn’t say that I have writer’s block. Writing is difficult, yes…but as Pullman says, so are many other professions. Rather than sit around and wait for a flash of brilliance, we must keep our noses to the grindstone and just hope that, by some stroke of luck, we will one day fall into a groove. I’ve found that sometimes it’s best to actually sit down and make myself write, temporarily setting my worries about quality aside and reminding myself that there will be plenty of time for revision later on. Usually, what starts out feeling forced ends up morphing into a natural flow.   

And speaking of putting something down on a blank page…I do realize that I need to make a new research blog post soon. The topic for my next post was going to be cryptomnesia, or unintentional plagarism, but now I’m wondering if it should be inaction inertia instead (which would focus on why it becomes more difficult, once we start procrastinating, to start moving again).

Any preferences, hypothetical readers? If not, I’ll let you be surprised. Check back soon.

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