The Creative Spark! – Shout Out or Smooch

Are dry, dull essays necessary? Only if you’re in law school. But if writing your essay sucks the color from your face, then shout out or smooch. Yes, treat your essay-writing like an audition for a blockbuster role. In other words, if your essays get dull, shoot them up with anger and passion.

And treat your essays like friends. In other words, compete with them. Challenge them. Change them?for the better. But who defines “better”? You do, of course.

Michael Shurtleff (in bold below) shows you the ropes of readings in his book Audition. I ready you for the writing in my follow-up musings.

When your script reading sours, blame your acting partner or plant a smooch. Similarly, when your essay-writing sucks, take it out on the authors you cite?or shower them with love. At the very least, your writing gets a shot of emotion.

Better yet, throw blame and plant a smooch?do both in either order. Forget the dull essay. Polish that C paper by combining opposites: blame and love. For example, praise the passionate argument of authors cited, and then blame them for their lack of judgement. In other words, gush and blame to up your grades.

If you can’t find a motivation for your character in the reading, then make the motivation the desire to change your partner. If you can’t find a “So what?” reason for a quote you cite, then make the “So what?” the desire to change the cited author’s view. In other words, if you can’t find any meaningfulness behind a citation, ditch it or challenge it.

Be specific about the things you want to change in your audition partner. Similarly, be specific about the changes you want in the cited author’s views. For instance, if you think psychology textbooks should humanize people with disorders, then say how to do so specifically. For instance, you could say psychology textbooks should advocate for a “colleague” relationship?not an authoritarian one?between psychologists and their patients. Be specific.

Don’t act cozy, comfortable, and laid-back with your on-stage friends. Friendships have underlying competition?that’s partly how friends help you grow. Display your competitive streak with authors you cite, too. If you agree with a theorist, then do a one-upmanship on her ideas; challenge or stretch her views.

Your friends won’t mind a challenge, and if they do, then you’ve created tension, which audiences love, says Michael Shurtfleff. Friends are rarely nothing but cozy; so, spice your essays with a competitive flare.

Ignore stage directions. If an overambitious playwright gives direction like “she sighs sadly,” ignore it. Instead, insert how you would react, given your life experiences. If an author you cite says he or she is enraged by, say, automation in the workforce, that doesn’t mean you need to feel the same way. Instead, insert your personal views. For instance, perhaps you’re optimistic about a company aiming to one-up automation by merging human brains with computers.

But do brains merging with computers sicken you? Then, own your feelings. Shout them out. (Personally, after seeing the benefits of a metal-on-metal hip, I think computerized brains sound a tad friendly.)

So, don’t follow stage directions; follow your gut?even if one day it’s made of metal.

A paradox? I call it a Creative Spark!