As I was swimming laps this morning, I was struck with the thought: Where do creative ideas come from? Not simply themes for a book but various creative plot points. For me a lot of those ideas do not come when I’m poised in front of my computer screen. Here are some of my experiences with creativity:
1) The ideas flow when I’m in the midst of writing. In other words, when I allow my fingers to fly across the keyboard without worrying about grammar or “if I said that before,” the ideas pour out. Often this happens in the midst of dialogue between and among the characters.
2) Another place where I get ideas is where I least expect it. When I’ve been stuck–not sure what to do next or where the story is going, I move away from the computer. I go for a walk or a swim. My mind wanders to other things. The idea often comes in those innocuous places. In fact, I have had creative insights when I was stirring the sugar with the egg yolks over a double boiler for an endless period of time or when I’m on lap fifty in the pool. I don’t try and force myself to think about the stumbling block, instead my mind wanders freely and then it happens. Eureka! The idea emerges and I’m unstuck.
These thoughts about creativity led me to reflect on how I work crossword puzzles. I tend to study the puzzle for a period of time, filling in the blanks that come easily. When I get stuck (as I invariably do), I move away from the puzzle. I put it down and go do something else. Again, as if a light goes off in my head, the answer to that pesky puzzle appears. I love the clues that require my mind to do a little flip. Here’s one of my favorites: The clue was “breaking and entering.” The answer was a six-letter word. Can you give it a go? If you are stuck, go take a walk or a swim and see if the answer will come.
I’ll share the answer in my next post. Meantime, take a break from your computer and let your creativity flow.
How have you experienced creative insights in your writing?
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Mary-Jean Harris says
I also find that I get the most of my ideas when I’m not specifically trying to find them, like while I’m writing something else or on a walk or running or something. I go through a lot of pocket notebooks! Usually my inspiration comes from dialogue, or really just a monologue where one character talks about something to do with the story. I still feel as though I’m making it up, but I can do it really quickly when I’m out doing something else and not writing it down.
Thanks for the post,
Joan Curtis says
Thanks, Mary-Jean. It’s often interesting how the ideas come. It’s never when you expect them. And it can’t be forced. At least that’s the case with me!
Pearl R. Meaker says
I’ll go along with Stephen King in the 1st forward to his book “On Writing” talking about the authors he’s in a band with:
“We are writers, and we never ask one another where we get our ideas; we know we don’t know.”
That said, I think we all know what might inspire some of our ideas even if we don’t know how that inspiration turned out the idea it turned out.
My book was originally going to be titled “You and Me and The Devil Makes Three” after the verse in the song that got me thinking it could be a good mystery title. It’s now “The Devil’s Music” which fits it better. Other than the devil, music, and that the song is a bluegrass song, the song that inspired me doesn’t have a thing to do with the storyline of the book.
When I was writing Tolkien based fanfiction, I once had a story pop into my head while I was driving; the whole storyline/plot and much of the actual content. And I hadn’t been thinking about anything connected to it before it popped.
Sometimes, we just don’t know.
Dyslexic Smoking Man says
My mind is generally blank. A hollow void of nothing.
Somewhere between the second and third glass of wine I hit the zone.
A sweet spot. A big bang of ideas.
While in the zone I need to type quickly, as the bus is moving fast, before you know it you’re on glass 10 and the mind goes bazerk…