Cards and Creativity: Symbolic, Tactical, Powerful

I have been thinking (and will no doubt continue thinking) about my problems in working on my books.

I think part of the issue could be the exhaustion of mental resources. And I began to wonder if the human personality actually has different capacities for different types of activity. Personally and in my experience, I think its obvious that this is the case. Going by what the team behind Magic the Gathering called the types of players (Johnny, Timmy, and Spike), I imagine three types of creativity.

(The comparison to the types of Magic players is all based on the idea that people like stuff they’re good at better in most cases

Symbolic Creativity, Tactical Creativity, and Powerful Creativity

These are not direct equivalents to the magic types, so don’t assume that if you’re familiar with Johnny, Timmy, and Spike.

Symbolic Creativity means stuff that deals with compressed data. This card represents these effects. This word has these denotations and connotations.

Tactical Creativity is, for me at least, logistics-based. That can mean knowing the right place or right time in a literal sense, and sometimes can be as general as knowing what will happen in a given situation. When applied in art-making this is the skill of extrapolation.

Powerful Creativity is what I see as fuel for action. Inspiration might be comparable, and so might excitement. I think this one is more emotional than the other types, consisting of feelings as often as thoughts.

So these three are all things each person has, but I would like to propose an economy of creative resources.

If I play a collectible card game my symbolic and tactical creative energies deplete because I am identifying the meanings of cards and working to find the best time to use them. My powerful creativity is less used in that activity, however, because the need is to think realistically of what my options in the game are, rather than seek some brand new solution.

When I write rough draft I think I use all three, but less symbolic most of the time because I try to use a lot of familiar ideas and simpler words to convey them. Tactical solutions as to how to best convey the information become more important.

When I edit the symbolic becomes ascendant and the powerful becomes less important, because the raw energy of creation must at that point fit into the preexisting text.

When I outline the book I think things are most equal in usage, but powerful creativity is my access to the freedom of twists and new ideas, and that’s even more true in the brainstorming phase.

This is a fun little thought experiment, but I must admit it is, in and of itself, purely a symbol, like math but for weighing creativity.

For that reason, I will have to keep thinking on it when I have time, and try to refine the idea.

When I started this post I thought I might be able to use theses concepts to describe a shortage of my own creative juices because I overwork them. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe its more like developing muscles than spending fuel, and I need to cultivate and warm-up my mind before I can expect full stories to just pour out of me as it seems they once did.

In any case, have a good day, and let me know if you have any thoughts on any of my ramblings. I don’t often reply to comments, but I enjoy reading them most of the time.


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