Dostoevsky's Subconscious Creative Process

Many artists struggle with their work because they don't see how it comes to them and moves through to their canvas. This is a problem that can affect both experienced and inexperienced artists. Ayn Rand suggests the lack of understanding the creative process causes writers block at best, and at its worst contributes to lifelong stagnation, or degeneration, of the artist. “As a rule, he starts rather young; he shows what is called ‘unusual promise’; and in a few years you see him repeating the same thing, less brilliantly and originally each time – and soon he finds that he has nothing to write about.”[1] Fyodor Dostoevsky is a writer who exhibits the exact opposite phenomenon of which Rand speaks. He too initiated with “unusual promise,” but his work, instead of atrophy, improved over the span of his life and culminated in a novel many believe to be his best. For aspiring artists who have felt both promise and stagnation, learning the process of artwork is important, and Dostoevsky seems to be an ideal mentor. It is the goal of this essay to catch a glimpse of the philosophy of writing in the creative laboratory of Dostoevsky so that aspiring artists can understand how they might improve themselves and their work.