Authorlink! Georgia Correspondent Jennifer Rampey gained these insights from Author Emily Hanlon at a recent workshop in Atlanta.

Looking Down the Creative Rabbit Hole: Insights from Emily Hanlon

By Jennifer Rampey – Authorlink! Georgia Correspondent


ATLANTA– Unearthing the deep-rooted creativity and passion that inspires fictional characters requires an author to expect the unexpected. That's one pearl of wisdom author Emily Hanlon shared with writers recently at a workshop focusing on unleashing and developing characters from the imagination.

Hanlon's book, The Art of Fiction or How to Fall Down the Rabbit Hole Without Really Trying, is a course on setting this creativity free and was the centerpiece of the workshop. Hanlon encourages her students to become aware of what is happening in the unconscious mind where characters are first generated, and to be open to the unexpected nature of creativity. She teaches authors to listen for their "Inner Critic" – that inner voice that can discourage and derail the entire creative process. As defined in her book, this voice is the "commandant of our intellect and conscious self or ego, the one who stands by the door of your creative unconscious, sometimes barring the way with an automatic weapon."

"We only use a small part of our creative stock and we always have room to expand," Hanlon said. "Growing up in a society that is a very, very linear, go-getter society–makes us tend to leave our creativity t behind because it's slow. Great ideas happen spontaneously."

Other tips from Hanlon's workshop: The more you use your creative muscle, the stronger it gets. Imaging is important; words are vehicles for an author to tell what is seen in the unconscious. You don't create your characters – they create you. Don't be afraid to play. Creativity is about going back and becoming a child. It's important to value and validate your own creativity. Hanlon said successful creators are passionate about their work, and they are risk takers although they don't have to be bungee jumpers.

"You don't have to be a risk-taker in the outer world to be a risk-taker in the inner world."

Creative writers who find success are technical experts at their craft, and they are comfortable with failure in that they don't view it as failing. In their minds, they have simply found a technique that doesn't work, Hanlon said.

Perhaps most importantly, successfully creative writers are different – or weird – "and like it:"

Hanlon has written eight books of fiction, including Petersburg, published by Putman's in 1988. Her workshop was cosponsored by the Georgia Writers and The International Women's Writing Guild.


The Art of Fiction

or How to Fall Down the Rabbit Hole Without Really Trying

$39.95 + $4.95 shipping/handling


To order contact:

Labrynith Press

PO Box 536

Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

(914) 962-4432 Copyright, Authorlink!, 1997