Something interesting happened back in November when I decided to partake in NaNoWrMo. I posted on Twitter and Facebook that I was jumping in with two feet, totally unprepared with nary a plan or plot in sight. I just started writing.
Lots of people were very encouraging and many came back with ‘oh, I’ve always wanted to write a novel’ or something similar. When I suggested signing up to NaNo I got a very common response: ‘but I don’t have anything to write about/I don’t have any ideas’. I honestly found this quite baffling, as someone whose ideas come so frequently they can actually be a distraction to my current WIP, I didn’t understand how this could be the case.
I wanted to cry out ‘but you can write about anything!! You could write about a laser-sword fighting rainbow unicorn vigilante if you want.’ (Actually that would be pretty awesome – someone should write that.)
It occurred to me that perhaps I took my creative side for granted; it’s always been there (ever since I was old enough to wield a crayon) and it spills into everything I do. But I think it goes much farther than being a naturally reliant on my right-brain. My Dad, a fellow creative soul, recently said something which resonated with me when we were visiting the National Gallery of Victoria together:
‘Looking at art really feeds the soul, doesn’t it?’
Yes. It absolutely does.
Nourishing the creative side with attention and stimulation is what will help to fuel the ideas when you are writing. It’s not just about studying the craft until your prose is worthy of an award or being disciplined enough to sit down and write each day. Those things are certainly important, but feeding the creative soul, nourishing the right-brain and giving the stories somewhere to come from is what will help you get an idea for that blank document that is staring you in the face.
Here are some of the things I find really helps get the creative juices flowing:
- Go to an art gallery or museum and wander around, something might just jump out and grab you
- Go for a walk – try to go somewhere with beautiful scenery, or just somewhere different to your usual environment. Observe and take in your surroundings
- Look at photos – sometimes I just trawl through image sites (try Flickr, We Heart It or even just Google images) to get inspiration. Sometimes even looking back through my own photos will jog a feeling, or a memory which could be turned into a story, character or scene
- Try a different medium – paint or draw, make something or get your camera out and snap some photos. Just see what comes out! You never know, there might be a story or character that’s just waiting for you to put coloured ink to paper
- Go to the library – I find that being surrounded by books always inspires me, so looking through what’s on the shelves at the library might help to get you in the mood. Same goes for bookstores, or even just surrounding yourself with books at home
- Read, read, read and read some more – I know this is common advice but it works, reading often and widely can inspire you to keep going when it seems all too hard
What do you do to get those creative juices flowing?