The many faces of K. D. Morey- Author, Artist, Psychologist, and Geek

The Fractal Nature of Creativity

Creativity is an eternal spiral. Each piece of creativity inspires more creativity building and building upon itself in never-ending loops. The process ignores style, genre, and even medium. Art inspires- book- inspires song- spawns comic- inspires film- inspires art and so on in ever turning eternal bliss. I’m going to go over why this is important to the creative mind to realize and instruct to some extent on how to tap into this powerful tool. In this instance how to use music to become a better artist and writer.

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We have all been there. Cleaning up the house, doing dishes, or some other remedial task, even driving the car. We blank out and forget what we are doing. In essence we are just not there. What we experience in that moment is called Dissociation. Put simply- our conscious mind disconnects while our subconscious goes about tasks that have become so ingrained that they require no conscious thought on our part to perform.

This state of mind, while not always desirable. (Please folks! drive safe!) is a valuable state of being for the creative person at work. Great ideas hit you in the shower? On the commute home from work? Right before you fall asleep? I shouldn’t have to tell you to have some means of note taking on hand at all times. The reason these ideas hit at these times is because these moments are where our level of disassociation are at their highest. You need to not think to think.  The harder you try to think the farther away from your creativity you become. That mental loop is what creates a monolithic art block, the bane of every creative person on the planet.

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In Buddhism they refer to the mind as a “chattering monkey” the subconscious is where the creative gold lies. But that monkey is going to distract you- Did you take out the trash? You know your work isn’t very good. That’s not how it’s done! We need to pick up TP today. On and on it will go. Sometimes when you need the mind to blank out it steps in and flings poo everywhere. This will transform a boring experience into a frustrating one. But! If we add music!

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Presto! You have thrown a toy at the monkey and it is going to run off distracted while you tidy up like a boss! That shower is amazing! And the drive home becomes epic! In fact you may feel chills and like you’re doing everything perfect. Psychology calls this kind of amazing involvement Flow or a Flow State. It is similar to dissociation in that your conscious mind is out of the way. But instead of being pushed aside completely it is involved and fully engaged. You are working from a state of union and a creative mind wants to be right there. The sweet spot where the creativity flows free and un-judged but the skilled part of your mind is doing what it needs to in order to successfully complete the task.

ImageLet me give an example- For years now I have run and played in D&D games. Now if you have a really good game going your roleplaying is more like acting than just boring rolls of the dice. Getting into character sometimes became taxing. One trick I picked up was to create a soundtrack for the character. This list of songs comprised of everything I had that made me think of or associated with the personality and feeling I was attempting to portray. Sometimes it would even be music I didn’t like very much. But after some time listening I could put myself in the proper frame of mind. Bitter and angst ridden characters would get some heavy metal. A sensualist gets some tribal bellydance music on their soundtrack and so on.

I carried this to scenes, regions, settings. The associations didn’t even need to make sense to anyone but me, because the inspiration was all for me no one else. When I would do character art the same soundtrack would play while I drew and colored the picture.

This has become an integral part of my writing. Now, before I even write for a character I create a sound track for them. Listen to it before I even start writing. I get in character. Put them on for a bit and then write as if I was them. If words inspired but got in the way while working then I would switch to some kind of instrumental music when I was ready to really work.

If you have no set theme for your work then pick any music that is repetitive and encourages that state of no mind. Just need to be inspired and think? Encourage the dissociation with some repetitive sound. For this very reason I have enough electronica music to fuel a rave that lasts over a week 24 hours a day. For me it’s the electronica, for you it could be Beethoven. It matters not at all. So long as it works for you. Music not cutting it? Then find some other remedial task to distract your brain. A semi boring game? Mow your lawn? Get some exercise? Do it all to music! Still not enough?  Immerse yourself in the art.  Read the books.  Watch the movies. Visit the places. Let the inspiration work it’s magic and carry it home to your own creativity.  You are a ritualist garbing themselves to embody a god, the lover lighting candles.  You are setting the mood and switching your frame of mind.

This technique has carried me through over 100,000 words of a manuscript, endless papers in my schooling, hundreds of pieces of art, and countless games over the past decade. All by purposefully setting myself into a flow state, encouraging that small level of dissociation so the creativity is set loose. Free your mind. And may the flow be with you- Always.

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