Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Tradition and Innovation in Creative Writing
By applying Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity to a sample of Australian fiction writers, it is possible to move beyond the innovation/tradition dichotomy to see that, rather than being mutually exclusive forms and practices, tradition and innovation are both needed for creative writing to occur. Based on in-depth interviews with over 40 Australian fiction writers and publishing industry professionals, this paper explores the problematic notions of creativity, innovation, tradition, convention and formula, and argues misconceptions in the established discourses in these areas affect not only writers but the reception and distribution of their writing. Genre writers in particular have reported misconceptions and prejudice regarding their work. Using Csikszentmihalyi’s definition of creativity as the complex interaction between individual writers, a domain of knowledge and a field of experts making decisions about written works, this paper will show traditional and innovative knowledge and practices both influence and support all forms of creative writing.
Keywords: Creative Writing, Creativity, Tradition, Innovation, Australian Writers, Csikszentmihalyi
Doctoral Candidate, Division of Communication and Education, University of Canberra