The magic of creativity, ideas, and innovation, like all magic is illusory in the eyes of those who don’t study the craft. Perhaps counterintuitively, understanding how an idea is born does not make it any less elegant or magical. On the contrary, it becomes an object to be admired and wondered at all the more.
I freely admit that I’ve yet to fully understand my own craft. I have my own book of spells (the creative constructs I use most frequently) from which I can conjure an infinite number of ideas – I don’t know what I don’t know, until I begin – and yet at every turn I discover wiser minds have delved deeper than I could ever hope to venture into the underlying construction of ideas.
That is why it is always such a pleasure to discover the spell books of others. My most recent find is Stanley Fish’s How To Write A Sentence And How To Read One – easily the most fascinating book on the magic of the construction of sentences. I know. I know. Right now your nerd alert is screaming AAAOOOGAAA! Trust me though, this is good stuff and relates to our shared interest in creativity more than you may think.
It goes without saying that writing and language are essential to the creative process. According to Fish, “A sentence is a structure of logical relationships” and what are ideas if not exactly that: structures of logical relationships? Our ideas are born as sentences.
This of course, only scratches the surface of the magic. Even a wizard of words such as Fish struggles with whether to attribute the source of the magic to form or content. Does the form (language) have “generative and determinative powers” or is it “the disposable vehicle of a subject matter it serves?”
Ultimately, if somewhat hesitantly, the author comes back in support of form – not an easy or even I sense a final decision – but one I agree with as I read Fish’s book which would also work under the title How To Create An Idea And How To Recognize A Good One.