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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Creative Process: The Disney Way
In a perfect world I follow a predictable pattern when planning a new story. First, I brainstorm while seated on a comfortable chair located next to an open window and jot down ideas using my favorite black pen on paper. Then, when I’m ready to outline or write a rough draft, I move to the office and use my computer. While reviewing, I prefer to sit on the living room couch and use a large red pen to make corrections or changes on the printed pages.
I thought moving to different locations while writing was unusual until I read about Walt Disney. He believed in a three part creative process: the Dreamer (brainstorming and formulating ideas), the Realist (transforming ideas into concrete plans), and the Critic (spotting problems and offering constructive and positive solutions). In fact, Disney used separate rooms to work on each of the three creative parts. He literally kept the dreamer, realist and critic in separate places and from interfering with each other.
Of course, it’s not easy for most of us to go to three separate locations when writing. Trying to squeeze in any writing between family and work obligations is difficult enough without maintaining three distinct writing areas. Sometimes all we can do is scribble down ideas on envelopes or scraps of paper while in a doctor’s waiting room or riding the metro.
So, how can we separate out the three parts without using three separate rooms? Anything that signals a transition is helpful. For instance, stand up and stretch, walk around, ring a bell or change your clothing--anything to let both the conscious and subconscious mind know that you intend to move to another phase.
It seems that Disney had an ability to balance all three areas (dreamer, realist and critic) so that one didn’t dominate the other. If he felt his creative team was stuck in detail while planning a project then he became a dreamer to help them move forward. Or, if they were lost in fantasy, Disney became a realist to ground his team.
Since we usually write alone it's necessary to get ourselves “unstuck” from each phase. If your critic is on the rampage, take a break and do something creative like baking or photography. Or, when your dreamer is running amok, balance your checkbook. That can be a huge dose of reality!
What is your creative process for planning and writing a story?