Creativity and inspiration can be such fickle friends. Here one moment, and then gone the next! They never seem to come when we want them to, or exactly how we expect them to, and often they just don’t come at all. I’ve discovered a number of different ways to inspire myself, and to unleash my creativity. So, here are five techniques that I have found helpful in encouraging my ‘creative juices’ to flow:
1) ‘Splashdown’: I have heard this process referred to by any number of quirky names, but splashdown is my favourite, because it perfectly encapsulates the concept.
When brainstorming, write (or type) down any idea that floats through your mind. Any idea at all. Even if it’s a random word, that seems totally irrelevant to the process. Nothing is more daunting, or hindering to the flow of ideas, than staring at a blank page (or screen). By committing to writing down every single idea that comes to mind, nothing is off limits. Every thought is valid, even the ones that seem trivial. Ideas often don’t come fully formed. Sometimes they need a little assistance, and ‘splashdown’ provides that encouragement!
2) Perspective: Sometimes, what initially seems like a great idea, doesn’t hold up under scrutiny; something about it just doesn’t work. Before I discard an idea completely though, I like to ‘change my perspective’. This means that I try to look at that idea from every possible angle, before I discount it. I try to put myself into other peoples’ shoes and imagine how they would view the idea. For me, the best way to do this is to imagine what somebody with polar opposite views to my own would think of the idea. Often, this change in perspective allows me to rethink an idea so that I can make it work!
3) Anytime, Anywhere: Always have a notepad, handy. ALWAYS. I have one beside my bed, I have one in my purse/bookbag, and I have one by my piano. I don’t go anywhere without a notepad. (Seriously, I even have a notepad just outside the shower!) I have found that inspiration can come at the most bizarre (and sometimes inconvenient) times. Ideas can come to you at anytime, in any place, and if you are not ready for them, they can disappear. Having a notepad with you at all times, allows you to preserve an idea immediately. I used to think that I would just remember the idea later. Unfortunately, I could usually only remember fragments, and For me, the best ideas come just before I fall asleep, or when I’m taking a shower. Extremely inconvenient! I think that’s because both of these times are when I allow my mind completely free reign… which leads to my next tip…
4) What If?: Our ability to brainstorm is often hindered by the ‘rules’ of the universe that we subconsciously apply to everything. This can create a censor on new and fresh ideas. I like to engage in a little exercise that I’ve termed ‘what if?’ whenever I brainstorm. I take a preconceived notion I hold, and turn it on its head. For example: I might look at something like gravity – a law I subconsciously apply to everything on planet Earth. And then I might think: ‘What if there was no gravity on earth? What would that look like?’ or perhaps: ‘what if Earth had less gravity? What might that be like?’ Or even: ‘what if we woke up one morning, and there was no gravity on Earth?’
Once the censors have been broken down, my mind is free to run amok!
Never hoard ideas. This is something I used to do with alarming frequency. I would come up with a great idea, and immediately associate it with a specific writing project, and then store it away. I seemed to have a ‘locked-in’ mindset that there was a limited number of great ideas I could ever come up with, and that I had to save those great ideas away. This happened for my novel, Magician’s Mayhem
. I had written two great scenes that I needed to bridge together, but nothing I wrote worked. After going through some of my other writing, looking for inspiration, I came across an unfinished story that I had put on the backburner because there were several aspects of that story that hadn’t worked. I dismantled that second story, and took the ideas that weren’t working, and applied them to Magician’s Mayhem
. They fit perfectly
, and I was happy that I had been able to use the ideas from one story, and apply them to another. Now I understand that there is no limit to how many great ideas I can have, and that I’m doing myself (and my writing!) a disservice by hoarding those great ideas away, and not using them.
So, do any of these techniques work for you? Do you have other techniques to get your creative juices flowing?
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