Unorthodox Writing Tips 6: Inspiration Comes
I’ve given some though to posting some daily writing prompts. I’ll do that in the coming weeks. I thought instead I’d do something that few people are able. I’ll tell you where my ideas come from.
Yes, this is a topic that many avoid. They treat it like a mythical, otherworldly event that just happens in their head and words pour forth. That doesn’t happen for me. No, I’m not a magical creature with spectacular skills. I’m not drunk on creativity. Well, sometimes. But I honestly have no trouble coming up with ideas. I do, however, have trouble writing them all.
Creativity, for me, starts with something as simple as looking outside and thinking ‘what if’. What if I were to climb that hill and find something? What would I find? What would it look like? What would it be made of? What if it was a door into a mine? What if that mine had been abandoned and the doorway now led to an alternate dimension? What would that dimension look like? Who would live there? What if they had already started coming through to our side? What would they be doing here? Would they have a base set up? Would they have security? Would they know our language?
This just came off the top of my head looking out my window at the hillside. Now you might think, “That’s all well and good, but it sound like something that’s been done before.” Sure, it might sound like Cowboys and Aliens or any number of a thousand stories that have been done before. That doesn’t mean you can’t write it. Just take the above example and keep applying it over and over until you get an idea that sticks.
Let’s try something else. Hope online. There are many places to go to look at artwork of varying styles. deviantart.com, everyphototells.com, nelmstimages.com, there are many. You can look at pictures of nearly any famous artist by just typing in their name and looking at the images. Art and photography are abundant and fertile ground for ideas.
Don’t have an internet connection? Look at objects around you. I mean anything. Look at the wood grain on your floor or the patterns of shadows in your carpet. Look at the shapes in your tile in your bathroom and let your eyes go out of focus and see what happens. What starts to move and shift and take on a life of its own? For that matter let your eyes go out of focus on a page of text. Don’t just look at one point, but allow your eyes to move around and see what patterns appear.
Don’t have anything yet? Try this. Listen to the radio, put your mp3 player on shuffle and give it a listen. Pick a line from a song. “Luck runs out.” “Like a sprained ankle, boy, I ain’t nothing to play with.” “Aliens from outer space are sleeping in my car.” “737 coming outta the sky.” All of these can spawn a dozen different ideas. Don’t just listen to songs you know, given a listen to some oldies, some hip-hop, something country, a little bit of metal. Just like you should be doing with your reading, listen outside your normal comfort zone. Don’t allow your pre-conceived notion of what is ‘good’ interfere with your brain.
With any of these, the next step it obviously to keep brainstorming and asking those ‘what if’ questions and keep going until you find a direction. Don’t just stop with the beginning of the idea, figure out the who, where, when, why, and how of the story. Allow your mind a moment to wander off and find its own way around. Creativity is allowing yourself to no longer be constrained by what you know and start exploring what you don’t know. Once you’ve allowed your mind to wander freely, it’ll become easier and easier to do so.
As I said, ideas are easy. I’ll show that when I start posting writing prompts and I’ll try to include a little snippet of where the idea for the prompt came from. If you’re having trouble coming up with an idea or for keeping yourself going with the idea you currently have, just sit back, and let your brain wander away. You may even like what it brings back.
Until next week!