Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Soyinka on Becoming a Writer

In an interview, Nobel Prize-winning playwright Wole Soyinka says:, in response to a question about how to prepare oneself to be a writer:

"Well, everything requires some craft. And I believe that the best learning process of any kind of craft is just to look at the work of others. It doesn't mean you're going to be influenced by them. I believe that there is a kind of osmotic process whereby one intuitively absorbs the various strands that went into the making of a play, a poem, etc. In some cases more craft is required. If you're going to stage a play you're going to involve other human beings who are going to be moved about in space and their spatial relations must respond to the textual pronouncements of the various characters. So there is a bit more craft involved in theater, in the theatrical arts, and let us say even in certain forms of poetry. It all differs. The important thing is just to consume as much as possible and then forget everything you every consumed, because in the process of consuming you have already begun to evolve your own distinctive creative pattern, even without your knowing it. But the ultimate lesson is just sit down and write. That's all."


MattJ said...

thanks for this Scott. I don't know about everyone else, but I always need to be reminded that "creativity" is not something you can really force. But there are ways to help it along.

Like just sitting down and writing. Being present and not "thinking" too much. And doing all that sort of dramaturgy as your quote mentions so your creativity can be unique when it does flow.

P'tit Boo said...

A great reminder indeed.
And yes .... you work , work , work, read , read , read but in order for creativity to really unleash, all must be let go.
A delicate balance.

Lucas Krech said...

But the ultimate lesson is just sit down and write. That's all.

I couldn't agree more. I think I said something similar a while back. The artist consumes everything possible, then internalizes it and transforms it and outputs their product, whatever that is. But doing it is what makes it. The consumption part is reasearch and is necessary, but in no way sufficient for the creation of art.

You train so you can forget the training. Much of my best work largely ignores my formal training. But when I find myself against a wall or working on a production I have no connection with, those tricks sure come in handy to make a good product.

Alison Croggon said...

Reminds me of one of my favourite quotes, from another poet, Jack Spicer. He is speculating that he writes about poetry to keep all the essayistic theorising out of the actual work; as his Muse says, "Talk all you like, honey, but then let's go to bed".

Scott Walters said...

Reading and education provides the compost from which creativity springs. The richer the compost, the healthier the plants that grow out of it. But if you fail to amend the soil, but just plant plant plant, you will end up with scrawny plants with few flowers or vegetables. Far too many artists think that they can create quality art simply by doing it. But reflection is necessary, as is the thought and the creation of others.