Could common sense be hurting your writing or other creative project? Inc.com reported a speech by Luke Williams, author of Disrupt, at the World Innovation Forum. He was speaking about organizations, but I think what he says applies to most individuals as well:
“"The only time an organization does change is when they are forced to, when they are backed into a corner and there is no other choice.”
The rest of the time, it feels safer to stick with what we know and especially what has worked in the past. Williams pointed out, "Nothing kills a new idea faster than common sense."
HOW TO ABANDON COMMON SENSE
My favorite way to break out of this is to consider the opposite of what we assume to be true. A useful twist is to imagine that somebody else has proved the opposite to be true and then try to figure out how that could possibly be so.
That removes the immediate doubt that can can crop up that we could ever come up with something so radical.
NONSENSE ABOUT WRITING--OR IS IT?
For instance, one common sense assumption about writing is that your fiction needs a beginning, middle, and end.
Let’s assume that in June of 2013, M. R. Bixby proved that you can have success with a work of fiction that doesn’t have a beginning, middle, and end. How could that be? What might he have written?
Hmm, maybe he wrote a book of stories that have only beginnings and middles. Your challenge as a reader is to make up or write a fitting ending. There could be a website at which you could post your ending and you could see what others have written. Maybe Bixby awards a prize every month for the new ending he likes best.
Or, similarly, maybe he wrote a book of only endings, and invites you to work backward and write what might have happened to bring those characters to that point.
Or maybe he provides you with a series of scenes that could take place in any order and invites you to connect them in whatever way you want: A couple breaks up, they make passionate love, they each reveal a dark secret from their past. Which of these happened first, which second, which third? How does it change the story when you switch the order?
As I hope you can see, not only is challenging common sense a good way to come up with new ideas, it’s a lot of fun as well.
(Some of the greatest writers of the past and present refused to follow common sense. You can find their advice on writing, in my book Your Creative Writing Masterclass, published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or you other favorite bookseller.)