Consciously or not, people often model the process of creative writing based on personal experience. This mental construct accounting for how creative writing works then underpins research into the writing process and needs to be examined and compared with other theories on the creative writing process.Much pioneering research on the cognitive processes of writing was conducted using psychology research methods. One groundbreaking study by Linda Flower and John Hayes developed a complex cognitive process model of the writing process, challenging the idea that writing occurs in sequential stages. Unfortunately, this research was conducted in an artificial laboratory environment, and was not aimed specifically at creative writing. In later research into the lives of renowned creative people, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed a model of the creative process. My own research used these seminal empirical studies as the foundation for more context-bound interviews with successful publishing novelists in South Africa.The cornerstone of the Flower and Hayes model was the subprocess of goal setting, similar to Csikszentmihalyi’s emergence of problems as a crucial component of any creative process. In my interviews, it emerged that this could indeed be the driving force of the entire creative writing process. This is possibly the place where the world of the writer and the world being created in their fiction are most closely mapped onto one another and could be a primary factor in understanding writer’s block. Find the right match between worlds, and you may be able to avoid this dreaded hurdle.This chapter will discuss research on both the writing process and the creative process that was synthesised to form a conceptual framework for interviews with published novelists in South Africa. Within the traditional framework in South African universities’ language departments, creative writing is studied as a product in literature courses, rather than as a process. The focus is on the world created in a text or the socio-political world in which the text is situated. Studying the writing process itself is a relatively new field of enquiry; studying the creative writing process even more so. The interviews conducted with contemporary writers sought to broaden this perspective so that the process of creating textual worlds in a particular context could be investigated. Ways in which these interviews provided insights into altering existing models of the creative writing process, including a new perspective on ‘writer’s block’ and the reiterative nature of creative idea generation and critical judgement, are presented as part of the application of the research methodology.
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