The Elusive Nexus of Creativity and Mental Illness

She insisted she killed people with her mind. She was a creator and destroyer of worlds. She also found new ways to comprehend the wisdom of Aristotle and earned four prestigious academic degrees across varying disciplines with top grades and high achievements. She struggled with a diagnosis of schizophrenia yet created a life for herself, …

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The Role of Structure in Creative Free Thinking

Creativity can closely resemble chaos, as it did for me last week when I watched thirty 5th-graders whirling around a classroom with cardboard, duct tape, motors, gears, string and safety scissors. I was witnessing problem solving in action, solutions borne of a broad liberty in thought framed by a specific challenge needing to be addressed. …

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How Does it Feel to Have Earned an MFA?

"How does it feel to have earned an MFA?" It's a question I have heard frequently from well-meaning people, and I have had no answer. It has been exactly one month since I received my diploma in front of my wife, daughter and son in the grand chapel of College Hall at the Vermont College …

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Imagining History, or Creating True Scenes You’ve Never Seen

No matter what type of creative writing you pursue--fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry--a compelling scene can deepen the reader's immersion in your words. In two weeks I'll be giving a lecture at my final Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing residency titled Imagining History: Creating True Scenes You've Never Seen. I've provided a teaser of …

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Where Do You Fall on the Blogging Spectrum?

It's a question to which any blogger should have a short and simple answer: At what point on the blogging spectrum is your blog? The problem is that only people who have taken my blogging class are familiar with this map of web content that I created a couple of years ago. Now I'm sharing …

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Why I Never Call Someone Talented

God-given. Gifted. Blessed. These are adjectives and nouns we use when referring to someone as talented. We are suggesting that talent was a gift the individual received before he or she was even born. So if a creative produces a breathtaking work of art, and she is talented, why would we complement her by suggesting …

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A Two-Year MFA in Writing Reading List in One Post

"So I would imagine you have to do a lot of reading in an MFA program," I am sometimes asked. The answer is yes, and appropriately so: some believe the best way to learn to write is to read a lot, and to read critically. So what have I been reading the last two years …

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