1. Sulla
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    Sulla Member

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    Credo/Personal Values

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Sulla, Jul 29, 2012.

    Do you have a credo or personal value list?

    Basically this is a piece of writing that you do. It's a statement of your own values. I also include writing values.

    This list is helpfully when you are stuck or don't know where you are going with a piece. If you are working on a piece of writing all you have to do is look at your personal values and write from that place.

    Does anyone else do this?

    I guess it's a kind of philosophy on writing and life that can be used as the thought or basis of any work.
     
  2. Fluffywolf
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    Fluffywolf Member

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    Nothing is set in stone. Every situation is unique and deserves attention as such.

    So, I guess I do not do that. :D
     
  3. Sulla
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    Sulla Member

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    But I am guessing that you, Sir Fluffywolf, has a unique philosophy on the world.

    Maybe you are a very serious environmentalist (or maybe you think that whole thing is a scam). Maybe you think women are always X. Sometimes it's good to have your personal philosophy written down so you can go back to it to help frame your work.

    If your philosophy changes than you simply change the document that you wrote.
     
  4. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I have a philosophy of art, which is that art should exist mainly for its own sake. While it can be made to carry other messages, it had better be able to stand on its own as art without reference to any external yardstick of significance (such as "does it preach the right message" or "are we using the 'right' chord for this key signature"). In the end, the painting has to do something to my visual cortex; the story has to entertain me.

    Once that condition is met, everything else is fair game, and I don't fall back on a checklist when I'm stuck on something. I move onto something else that is more inspiring, or I soldier on and hope that the rewrite stoke my passion for those points where I got stuck.
     
  5. Fluffywolf
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    Fluffywolf Member

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    I'm a bit strange when it comes to values. I am a dominant thinker and I would never consciously assume anything. So I measure every new situation or thing as it arises and compare it to my internal framework of thoughts.

    I also never consciously adhere to generalizations and when I catch myself doing it unconsciously, I punish myself for it harshly! ;)

    I also don't only believe in facts or anything cliché like that, but rather try to discern the large picture before I make any kind of statement or conclusion. And my conclusions are never set, I'm always open to new information that may allow me to alter and update those conclusions. In a sense, I am not an opinionated person. Or rather, my opinions are not as important or abolute to myself as opinions usually are to most people.


    And that is pretty much my philosophy. But it doesn't help me much if I write that down. :D
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    My personal value list has only one rule, which is not to write personal value lists.
    They would not be beneficial to me. I'm always open to new ideas or to re-thinking old ones. I believe people should be allowed to pursue their own happiness to the maximum extent possible without interfering with other's ability to do the same. Where those lines are drawn can change due to numerous factors, many of which have probably not occurred to me yet. I don't need to write that down to remember it.

    I'm glad, though, that you have something that works for you. Others may find it valuable as well, so thanks for posting the query.
     
  7. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm a pragmatist in the extreme. Writing down by personal values would be anathema :)
     
  8. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    my personal values
    be pragmatic
    rules are flexible

    seriously what is it with everyone that their story needs to be some point or message across? dosent anyone write to write and entertaining story anymore?
     
  9. adampjr
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    adampjr Member

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    The only benefit that I can see is that if your write down your current values and try to do it in a coherent way, you might be able to spot contradictions or inconsistencies that you ddin't know you had.
     
  10. adampjr
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    adampjr Member

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    I guess pragmatists still do.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know that this would work for me. I don't see writing as a forum for communicating my personal values, or a creation that should be forced to follow those values. In considering how my writing interacts with my values, I see it more as a way of discovering what those values are. If--for example--I believe X and a character that I admire behaves counter to X, that isn't something to correct, IMO, it's something interesting to explore.
     
  12. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    I don't have a list. As a Christian, I have a book, but that's pretty open to personal application interpretation. Actually, the entire point of Christianity is to be adaptable according to love of God and man, but a lot of people miss that.
     
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I'm a Nietzschian primarily - I've been reading and trying to live Nietzsche's philosophy since high school. I believe strongly in independence of mind, reason and logic, and what could be called Absolute Freedom, or what Nietzsche called the 'Death of God'. This is not an anti-theist statement as many people think. I'm also a Libertarian and I strongly believe in Liberty, equality, and all people being equal before the law; also I am in no way a pacifist - I think violence and war are not only natural extensions of our primitive selves, but also sometimes necessarily for the good of all. That's a real philosophy.



    ...sorry, a personal pet-peve of mine is the phrase 'that is my philosophy' because usually it's about something completely asinine. Philosophy is about examining ethics, morality, justice, reality, politics, and metaphysics. If your entire 'philosophy' and way of viewing the world, if everything you value is to treat yourself once a day to a cup of coffee then you have the shallowest philosophy ever put on paper.

    When it comes to writing I believe in work - redraft and redraft again until it's measurably good. I always try to not side with any character or position, and I always try to add some kind of other layer to it, even if it's only a second layer of meaning. Just writing the story sometimes doesn't feel like enough.
     
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think if I could reduce my credo/personal values to a post on a forum, I wouldn't write stories. I'd also be much more keenly aware of my limitations than I am. Maybe I'd be wider awake.

    I guess I write to teach myself to dazzle myself. I write to increase my arsenal of meanings for the word "God." I write for the same reason Buddha sat under that banyan tree, only with more desperation, more aggression, more awareness of my own worsening case of eschatolitis.
     
  15. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Ah, good ol' Nietzsche. "When you look into the Abyss, the Abyss looks into you".
     
  16. Samo
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    Samo Member

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    This is exactly how I feel
     
  17. QDesjardin
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    QDesjardin Member

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    This is my rifle, there are many like it but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as i master my life. Without me it is useless, without my rifle I am useless.

    I will fire my rifle true, I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me, I must shoot him before he shoots me.. I will. My rifle and myself know what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is hits that count. We will hit..

    My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus I will learn it as a brother, learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as i am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will.

    Before God I swear this creed, my rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy, we are the saviours of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy but peace. Amen!
     
  18. Sulla
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    Sulla Member

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    It depends on what kind of work you do. If you write escapist fiction than a message or point might not come off right and detract from the ultimate aim. However, most literature contains a point or a message. What if Victor Hugo thought it best not to push his values in books? And the same could be said for all literary masters. Look at the many points and values that Shakespeare had. What about Tolstoy? Without his views on the rich and poor, love, war, greed and death his fiction would've been not worth reading.

    I don't know how you can write serious literature that is empty of thought, message and point. A credo/personal value list extends to both your writing philosophy and philosophy on the world. This would include your philosophy on character and specific characters. If you are writing about a character who is an alcoholic you are probably writing on something you know. You are basing it on something the character doesn't just appear out of thin air. That something is your personal philosophy. It would be rare not to include some values or philosophy in your work. I think it would be quite boring to read a book without a point, message or greater thought involved. It would be read and instantly forgotten. So, if you are using values and personal philosophy in your fiction anyway then there's no great harm in writing down what you believe in. By writing down what you believe in you are engaging in an introspective act. You don't have to use your personal values/credo document anymore than you have to. Indeed, I often use the opposite of what I believe in to explore different areas of life and to create a more complex character.

    Further, Thought is one of Aristotle Six Elements. It's difficult to ignore.

    I think many of you have mistaken what a credo/personal value list is. It's never set in stone. It's a document that changes as often as you do. Everyone has a personal philosophy. If your philosophy, like Fluffywolf, is to see the big picture than that is a philosophy you could write down and explore. Some of us remember our values better than others. Even so, we all lose sight of what we value or aim to do in our fiction from time to time.

    Furthermore, I never asked anyone to post their credo or personal value list on this thread. I merely asked if you had one.
     
  19. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Well, the thing about writing is that you're always trying to put forward your view, even if the view in question is as simple as "I am a great, entertaining writer".
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, i don't... and don't see any good reason to...
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But I don't know how you can write serious literature if you need to simplify your beliefs down to a few pages or paragraphs, and if you need those pages or paragraphs in order to remember what you believe. Life is complex. Characters are complex. Values are complex.

    This doesn't directly address the questin, but: I remember a study about memory, where some people saw an event and were instructed to write down a description what they saw, and others saw it and were not instructed to write it down. Later, both groups were asked about their memory of the event. As I recall, the ones who wrote a description remembered _less_ than the ones who didn't.

    Summarizing complex concepts and experiences in a modest number of words does not, IMO, help to solidify those concepts and experiences; instead, it simplifies and reduces them. I think that writing down my values, and then pruning and tidying my writing to make sure that it was in compliance with what I wrote, would harm my writing and result in it doing a _less_ effective job of reflecting my values.
     
  22. Sulla
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    Sulla Member

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    Perhaps you feel that way. But I never asked anyone to post their personal credo in the forum. Just asking if you had one and if you believed in one or not.

    Chicken- I think you've distorted the idea of the credo/personal value list, slightly. It's not a dumbed down version of your views but it is a summary. Those two things aren't the same. Furthermore, I wouldn't take it too seriously. You say that you wouldn't benefit from it, and I don't doubt you. As writers we all have different toolboxes.

    I have a lot of personal opinions about things. I find a list to be beneficial when I am stuck. It's not that I don't know my own values but rather it's an issue of being stuck creatively (or blocked) and not being able to move anywhere with my fiction. When I feel stuck sometimes it's hard to recall the things that are important to me.

    I don't come from an MFA background. I majored in history. As a history major I was required to write a precis on everything that I read. For example, when we read the Origins of Species by Charles Darwin we had to write a five pages summary on it. You could say that this precis, being that it reduced a major work into five pages, was "dumbed down" but that is assuming a great deal. The precis helped me kick start my memory, the way the credo does. It wasn't a definitive guide. Likewise just because you make a list of your values doesn't mean that it's a simplification. It's more like a start. You have to apply thinking to it. The personal values/credo doesn't do all the work for you but it provides a framework.

    Again, I didn't say that the credo/personal value list was for everyone. I could understand and appreciate the line of thought that says "I know my philosophy enough, I don't need to write it down" but you should realize that everyone is different. My list is of value to me.

    When I write I lose myself. The list tends to ground me back. Other times I sometimes venture into writing that isn't really my style. When that piece is crashing and going nowhere it's nice to be able to read my credo. Sometimes I forget what kind of writer I want to be. When you are engaged in a work sometimes you get off into a crazy path. If it's path that I can't continue than my credo is of use. It reminds me of the stories I truly wish to create and lets me drop what isn't working.

    Again, I can see how some people wouldn't find value in this. I'm not just pontificating on this. I am stating what I've tried and what has worked for me. If you don't want to try it then I suggest you don't. To each their own. It's not personal. We just see things from a different perspective.
     
  23. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do have a personal credo, I suppose. I would describe more as a basic philosophy of how I want to live my life. As to how that fits into my writing, I don't deliberately try to put any message in that reflects that philosophy. But I think every writer, regardless of why they're writing a story, instills something of their values into it, even if only subconsciously. I think one would have to work very hard not to.
     
  24. simina
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    simina Senior Member

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    That's an interesting approach.

    To be completely honest, I don't know enough about anything to have any sort of concrete personal values, and I think that stories which have "morals" tend to be boring and conservative.

    I like ideas, and I like art that contains a lot of them, but those ideas don't necessarily have to adhere to any sort of personal philosophy. I like them to exist independently of myself, anyway. I'd be willing to write a compelling argument for an idea even if I don't agree with it, or especially if I'm not sure if I agree with it yet - writing the piece can be a way to help me discover what my position on the matter is. And I also don't think that's there's anything wrong with art just being "entertaining." The primary function of art is to carry emotional messages. Sure it can carry intellectual messages as well, but the realm of the intellect might more fittingly be explored through science, mathematics, philosophy etc. There's nothing wrong with a story that's just a good tearjerker. It doesn't all have to be Sartre or Wilde.
     

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