Now for a subject that I struggle with, as well. Creativity. It’s wonderful-and necessary-to learn the nuts and bolts of writing. A writer needs to be able to clearly get an idea across in an entertaining way. The problem is actually GETTING the idea in the first place!
There are a lot of resources out there to help with idea generation, the most common being story prompts in a wide variety of quality and insanity. Such ready-made ideas don’t really encourage unique, original ideas of your own. In fact, some of them are down-right boring! (The worst I ever found was a story prompt saying “You are walking down the street and see something unexpected on the ground.”) My favorite idea resources are the ones that help me generate my own ideas instead of expand on theirs. Here are some suggestions that I’ve run across over the years:
1. Journals. A suggestion I’ve heard many times is to ALWAYS carry a notebook of some kind. Whatever is written on these traveling pages can be transferred and expanded on in several subject journals: character journal, setting journal, plot journal, description journal, and whatever else you can think of. (Perhaps I’ll go into more detail about some of these journals in a later blog, not now though.)
2. Brainstorming. Whether you set aside a specific time each day or fly spur-of-the-moment, brainstorming and freewheeling are excellent ways to get hidden ideas out of your head and onto paper uninhibited. The inner editor is a handy destroyer of ideas. Give it a break for a time and get those crazy ideas on paper! Sorting can always come later.
3. Writing Prompts. Ok, so I said just a second ago that writing prompts are often terrible, but if you combine them with other idea generating practices, a prompt is good as a start. The more unique your pool of information from journals and brainstorming is, the more unique and original your writing response to the prompt will be.
4. Random Word. The good difference between a writing prompt and a random word is the total lack of direction. Though this is more difficult to do if you have trouble dredging up new ideas, it lacks the pitfall of having to use someone else’s idea as a direction.
5. Music. Music is good for a form of meditation or mind clearing. I know, “How can I get ideas if I clear my mind?” Here’s how. A huge block to freeing creativity is all the every-day stress and routine that fills the mind. To let the quiet voice of imagination show up, the noise of every day needs to still or stop entirely.
6. Music (again). The other side of music is its ability to inspire images. Find a comfortable spot and lean back, close your eyes, and let your imagination flow with the notes. The type of music is different for everyone. I, personally, prefer music with as few lyrics as possible. When there are words, I focus on the words and ignore the music (Can’t hear the music for the words). The point is to let your own mind work, not the song writer’s. Don’t forget to write down whatever you imagine!
This is just a sampling of things to do. There are lots of other websites that suggest other practices, but it comes down to finding what works for YOU. The greatest idea in the world probably isn’t perfect for any individual. Practice, mix, and come up with new ideas. Above all, enjoy yourself! Creativity is always hampered when you’re trying to keep an eye on the clock for when your creative time will finally be over.