You never know where an idea will pop up

Students and readers often ask me how I keep my creative fires stoked, so here’s a list I’m working on. They are primarily for writers, but would work for anyone seeking to be more creative. I’ll post more as they occur to me:

  1. Listen to new-to-you music. Close your eyes, lean back and dream.  Write down what you discover.
  2. Take a news story and write a monologue from the point of view of someone in that story — preferably someone who believes something very different from what you believe.  Do that at least once a week.  It’s good writing practice and keeps you in touch with what’s going on in the world.
  3. Read poetry aloud.  Memorize a poem or two.
  4. Abandon the idea of perfection.  Give yourself permission to make bad art.
  5. Redecorate/tidy your workspace.
  6. Makes notes.  Jots down things as soon as they occur to you. I know you think you’ll remember brilliant idea you just had (especially just as you’re falling asleep/waking up), but you won’t.
  7. Listen.  People say the most amazing things.  Also keep track of odd email messages and posts on social networking sites. I had someone ‘friend’ me on a reading site and when I accepted s/he wrote, “Are you a boy or a girl and how old are you im only 76 and im single.”  And later, “Id love to meet your kids.”  Charming.  THAT’S going in a novel some day.
  8. Drink tea/coffee — a little caffeine fuels the thoughts.
  9. Sing in the shower.  In fact, showers in general are a good idea.  I get lots of great ideas in the shower. (Singing/music making is also wonderful.)
  10. Take a nap.  You never know what will pop up from the sub-conscious.
  11. Get a dog and walk him often.  Ideas seems to fall from the trees while I’m walking my dog, which is especially useful since the little spot in Plaid Pants, Alberta that used to sell them by the bulk has gone out of business.
  12. Spend an afternoon in an art museum.
  13. Garden.  Pay attention to all the little bugs and birds and critters.  What are they doing?  Why?
  14. Finish more work than you abandon.  In fact, finish as much as you possibly can, even if you don’t think it’s very good.
  15. Free write, by which I mean (a la Natalie Goldberg), write for a timed period, and keep your pen moving at all times.  Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar, just keep writing whatever comes into your head.  Then go back and circle anything that has power.
  16. Cook.  There’s something about the alchemy of cooking that not only acts as a wonderful decompression chamber after a day of writing, but can also provide wonderful sense details for your next piece.
  17. Make collages — This one might be my favorite.  Clip out photos you like from magazines and newspapers, words, phrases, etc., and create dream pieces that evoke some aspect of whatever your working on.  A character’s life, a setting, a theme. . .
  18. Turn off your computer.  Unplug. Step away from the machine — for a couple of hours, a day, a week. . .   Do it now.
  19. Write.  Write some more.  Write a lot more.  Repeat.  Do this for years.
  20. Read.  Read some more.  Read a lot more.  Repeat.  Do this for years.

Whatever you do.  Have fun.  Sure, writing is hard work, but it’s not coal mining, for heaven’s sake.  You should enjoy it.

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Leslie on June 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Great ideas! I get most of my best ideas in the shower or driving. Natalie Goldberg’s writing book is one of my favorites – glad to see someone else using those ideas.

    • Lauren B. Davis on June 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks, Leslie! Love Goldberg! Shower, driving .. . excellent!

  2. D.S Taylor on June 29, 2012 at 8:35 am

    great tips! Not so sure about the poetry but I hear ya on the caffine!!

    • Lauren B. Davis on June 29, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Thanks, David. I’m on my second cup as I write this. Whatever works, yes? As long as you get to the damn page. 😉

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