Psychology and the creative writing process: the role of experiential learning in the journey from fact to fiction

Deveney, Catherine (2019) Psychology and the creative writing process: the role of experiential learning in the journey from fact to fiction. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This work discusses the importance of experiential learning in the creative process of writing fiction. It shows the ways in which the insights and understandings that are gained from first- hand and third-hand experiences both inform and transform imaginative processes to create “a kernel of truth”: a believable fictional world for readers. In particular, the use of interviewing, especially media interviewing, as a trigger for this experiential learning is discussed, and the ways in which “relational depth”(Mearns and Cooper, 2005) in interviews can provide critical emotional, as well as literal, information about different lives, situations, and characters for writers.
The data bank of interviews described in this work was gathered over a 20-year period in the UK media and includes celebrity interviews with figures in the arts, politics, sport, entertainment, literature, and science, as well as with “ordinary” people in extraordinary situations. The writer shows how these interviews fit into the tradition of qualitative research, and how the encounters subsequently fed into the creative processes involved in the writing of her four novels. The interviews conducted constituted a data base of hundreds of single case studies, and some multiple case studies, that were drawn on in the creative process.
The importance of good interviewing technique in eliciting the depth of information required for this process is illustrated, with a comparison of techniques used in both media and psychological interviews. The importance of Unconditional Positive Regard (Rogers, 1951) in the interviewing process, and the use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1996) as an interpretative tool, are also discussed.
While autobiographical writing is routinely used in psychological therapies, creative writing is less common. A case is put for the therapeutic effectiveness of creative writing in enabling people to process difficult emotions, offering the possibility of third-person narrative as a way of distancing the writer from real emotion before claiming the “I” of first-person narrative. The “safe space” that creative writing can provide to those traumatised by difficult life events is shown to be of particular significance.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Creative writing, journalism, experiential learning, psyvchology of writing, interviewing.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Maley, Professor W. and Martin, Dr. L.
Date of Award: 2019
Embargo Date: 10 June 2023
Depositing User: Dr Catherine Deveney
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-73050
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2019 08:18
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 07:32
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.73050

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