At Hypercompendia, Susan Gibb describes an interesting process:
Just when you think you know these people you find something out and you click open a writing space and you tell everyone else about it. Its free association at its finest and Ill read and reread until I know all there is to know about what they’ve been hiding from me.
I’m not sure about “free association” (which may be a correct descriptor), but I do know that the tool is promoting thinking in different ways than the linear environment. In terms of writing character, Neil Gaiman has mentioned the knowledge character’s feed the writer, an idea that is difficult to convey outside of the influence of the muse. Numerous fiction writers have written about the phenomenon.
In another sense, “writing” as a descriptive action is a generalization. Thinking is a better generalizer. Good writing on many levels is good thinking. In this sense writing is simile.
Actually, I think that free association may be one of the better terms to describe it. A writer certainly isn’t channeling and if he hears voices in his head that’s not a good thing. The Muse and characters telling us what they do and want is just a dramatic (creative!) explanation that gives the writer some sort of label to put on the creative writing process. Does an artist need a Muse? A musician? A dancer? They’re available but not called upon or given credit for the good times when one is productive. You’ve stuck the right label on it all: thinking.
p.s. love the kitty.
I tried to credit a Muse many times, but couldn’t quite hand over credit to a separate creative force, being the one who discovered my ideas to begin with. I used to call it a “cosmic groove”, an intellectual Autobahn, which–when I found the entrance ramp–allowed my ideas to flow so free and uncluttered that it seemed they spun themselves out of thin air. I like and agree with both of your sentiments, and wonder if the magic would be lost just a little if some researcher ever puts a name to the process.