If you want to be creative, you can't hug your ideas, or how you generate ideas, or how you go about your day.
Creativity requires that you live and breathe curious exploration. The best way to have great ideas is, after-all, to have many ideas. And the more ideas you generate, the more you increase the likelihood that a few of them will be pretty creative.
In creative circles this insight feels almost cliche, but even working with professional creatives for 10 hours a day, I've come to learn we often forget how valuable it is to simply iterate quickly and regularly.
For example: Pablo Picasso is known for producing thousands of sketches and paintings, though only a handful would avoid the garbage pile or fireplace.
Over on Inc, Jessica Stillman reminds us of Picasso's own words on the matter:
"'Action is the foundational key to all success.' Have truer words ever been spoken? If you want to be more creative, don't sit around thinking about how to be more creative. Try stuff. And then try more stuff. Continuous iteration, experimentation, and hard work are the basic building blocks of breakthrough ideas. Armchair pondering? Not so much.#&8221;
Edison and his team of innovators made a largely debated number of attempts to discover the perfect filament for the lightbulb. Einstein was known for doodling day-in and day-out until his papers were covered in many ideas which ended up only leading to dead ends.
If any of them had held tightly onto any one of their ideas, would we have ended up with the paintings, innovations, and inventions we have today?
I've written about this before:
"How many paintings and sketches do you think van Gogh made (and destroyed) before anyone noticed him? Or how many tons of clay did Michelangelo have to go through before he wound up with the statue of David? How many versions of Infinite Jest did David Foster Wallace draft until the final, 1,079 page version shipped? Even more important: how many words did J. K. Rowling have to write before somebody thought it would be worth reading?"
The important thing isn't that in each event the individual tried 10,000 times to come up with the perfect idea. What matters is that they weren't afraid to continue to try, even when they likely stumbled on an idea they felt warmly about.
To have the most creative ideas we need to be open to letting go of the ones we have.
I feel like one of the greatest conquests of the english language is the phrase 'I'ma' because it's an abbreviation for 'I am going to' like we managed to subtract all the spaces and three-fourths of the letters and we still know what it means that's powerful
My snaggle-tooth, Lin's dork-face, and look at all those books!
Dork-face again, and six boxes! This is right before someone bumped into that end box and knocked it all down. And then after that, I knocked it down.
All my books in front of my moving-mess, and mom all bundled up.
Every year or year-and-a-half, the Wake County Public Library has a book sale! This year had so many more books than last year--which I hope doesn't mean one of the branches got shut down in the meantime. But it was so great. We took a few hours off of moving house to go get more things to put in the house, because books don't count as clutter*.
We didn't know as we filled six boxes between my sister, my mom, and I, that the boxes were two-for-one, so I got two whole boxes, which held 78 books for me and like 40 for gifts, for 5$!
The moral of this story is that you should see if your local library has an annual book sale, because hot damn.
I sort of accidentally started a collection of children's books as we filled a whole box with picture books and early readers for my nephews, and I found some super-sweet ones for me.
Highlights of the rest:
- a book of classic scifi stories that have inspired classic scifi movies
- The Stars My Destination
- three Robin McKinley books: Spindle's End, Water, and Fire
- two of the Dresden Files books I have read but don't own
- Uppity Women of the Rennaisance, which sounds really neat with just the few pages I've read
- Mean Streets, a UF anthology
- the sequels to two books I read a couple of years ago, a Graveyard Queen book and Axis, sequel to Spin
- a really great colonial cookbook, with super-early-American and same-time English recipes
- two books about gardening that look cool
- two different anthologies with Poppy Z Brite, among others
- The Forever War
- a few travel books by people I've never read before so maybe I can expand my travel-writer-habit
- some of the Wrinkle In Time sequels, and one of her other books
- a book about poetry by Frances Mayes
And, like, sixty more. I'm so excited!
* Tru fax. It's an aspirational, forward-thinking mind that keeps more books around than she could possibly read.
A little late this time, since we're just finishing up moving today (fina-fucking-ly), but here's this week's prompts! As always, they're free to use, but if you post them publically or get them published, drop us a line so we (I) can see them!
1. Your character is moving out of the house they grew up in and spent their whole life in, but as they unpack closets and room-corners and under beds, they find more and more things that don't belong to their family members or themselves--but do seem to connect to each other. What story do these strange objects tell? What does your character do with them and about them?
2. In the middle of the worst storm a girl has ever seen, something knocks on the door--but she lives far out in the middle of nowhere, alone, on a hill, and when she opens the door, all she finds is a small bedraggled creature, soaking wet and yowling piteously. Who knocked? Why? And what is this creature, because she's sure she's never seen it before. Does she take it in? Does it change her life? Is it for the better?
3. A grown man falls through a portal somewhere strange and finds himself in a magical world full of talking creatures, ancient wizards, curses and kings--and everyone he meets seems to know who he is. They claim he was here as a child and was a great hero to their land, but he doesn't remember a single one of the adventures they talk about. Is he cracking up, is he an amnesiac, or is something else going on? And why is he here now, regardless of whether the past was real or not?
4. A woman and a man from different cities and with wildly different lives are taken by an alien space ship. The aliens are either invisible or hidden--all they see are machines, none of which communicate with them, and each other. The ship takes them far away and they're traveling for a long time--and then they enter orbit around another world. Why are they here and what took them? Why were only these two chosen? What's on the planet below them, and what can they do about it?
5. At age ten, a boy and a girl start building a rocket to escape the collapse of their country. It takes them over a decade to build it, and involves the invention of a new sort of engine--the girl is a technical genius, and the boy can build anything--but they're finally ready to launch. Except there's effects of their new engine that they don't know about. What happens when they hit ignition? Are they successful? What do they find, either way, and what do other people think of it all? Is there anyone against their plan?
If you'd like 100 prompts at once, ones that have never been on this blog and are all Fantasy themed, look up in the Shop tab for Division of Muse Relations Volume 1, only 2$!
I just found this post on Twitter, and it's short but so much fun. Sort of a start of a conversation I want to follow up on later--and I'm putting in here instead of on my fandom blog because it's specifically about messing with Campbell's Monomyth.
"It's as if Quill and his Guardians are running in loops around Campbell's monomyth. Or, even better, the movie-makers are flagrantly disregarding it. They're nearly satirizing it."
I love me some Hero's Journey, like all good fantasy writers, but I also have some issue with it--which is why my Epic Fantasy book Married To The Wind is sort of a sideways epic; I was grappling directly with the Journey from a different perspective. Also why some of my current WiPs will be sideways interpretations, I'm sure. And this article starts to articulate both some of the issue I have AND some of why I liked Guardians of the Galaxy so much. So go read it. It's neat. And then we'll start digesting that to get going on this idea.
They're not up in my shop yet, but I have added stuff to my Gumroad page at www.gumroad.com/pirategirljack! There's Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years pages for a Family Memory Book--basically a scrapbook that's guided. I'm going to add a few more each holiday, so check back.
I've also added guided journal prompts, one for each day of December, January, and February.
Coming up next will be Division of Muse Relations Vol2, which will most likely be 100 Scifi story set-ups, and I'm going to start making and posting printable art journaling and art-planner-ing pages each month, too--I'll let you know when those are up!
I was doing really well. I was at least a thousand words ahead though most of the start, three thousand by Day 11...and then, I forgot to do it. For ten days. And by THEN, it was too much to make up. I don't know what happened other than November is always a mess and this year is more so, but I didn't finish.
I have a little over 30 pages, when I put it all together in proper MS format. I never did type up that one day that's longhand, so maybe more like 40.
But the Plan still stands! I'm going to edit Beacon through January and get it up on Amazon (and maybe Lulu so there can be physical copies, too), and then I'm going to write the rest of The Sound of Birds, Singing, and get that up on Amazon before the April NaNo spinoff. Where I'll try to write another book in 30 days (probably the first Drae novel, or the second Beacon, or maybe finish flipping Ember--haven't decided yet).
I guess I'll have to account for wobbles. But we're moving now, and I'm rearranging how my space is put together so I can have dedicated space and so it's easier to remember what I'm supposed to be doing each day. I'm getting back on the scheduling wagon, that I fell off of a while ago. I'm building a better life through stubbornness and optimism.
So fear not. December is for Division of Muse Relations Vol2*, and then January gets back to books.
How did you do?
*Get Vol1 from my Shop tab up above, or from www.gumroad.com/pirategirljack -- where you'll also find the first round of monthly journal prompt questions in a font I made from my own actual handwriting, and some Family Memory Book basic printables!
Oh, I can't take this roller coaster of having everything to say, thinking I'm writing the next Dracula, wanting to share it with everyone, doubting it, thinking its trash, fighting myself off with a knife so I don't delete everything, staring at the ceiling wondering what the hell my life even is, and then having everything to say again. I wish I had some great advice from one of the masters of writing...
Stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
Wow! The ghost of-
Booze and pussy?
Pft, why stop there when there's cock, ass, drugs, wars, half-sisters-
Cool it, George! Really, I got this! You are NOT helping!
Proust, no one can hear you through your cork lined room.
/cracks door/ Has anyone seen my gallon of coffee?
Just have like fifteen underlings help you with the boring parts.
NO! Dumas- all of you, l don't-
I was sober for brief periods, it was terrible.
Wait... that's not even your quote...
Oh really? I JUST SAID IT!
I helps to be a genius. Have you tried that?
Worth it! High five, Miguel!
Emily says being a mad genius works as well. Have you ever struggled with crippling depression?
Ruins everything else in your life, but you'll be rich, loved, and famous.
Oh, that's right, we didn't die rich, famous and loved, did we? No, no, we did not. Bunch of Goth kids love us now though, sooooo... there's always that.
I could help you, but you spent all your time mulling over William S. Burroughs instead of reading one of the greatest epic novels civilization ever produced. It's cool though, it's fine. He wrote and English after all, and you learned so much about ass play, totally worth your time and effort.
Just write. Stop procrastinating and just write.
Thanks, you know what? I needed to hear that.
What the? Neil Gaiman, you're not dead!
Oh? *Aren't I?*
Check your pulse, Gaiman.
Oh, right! Cheers!
Have you ever been in a mock execution? Ok, funny story-
GUYS! I'M WRITING! I SWEAR! WATCH ME WRITE ALL WRITEY LIKE!!!
I'm still working on Vol 2, which should be out late this year or early next year, depending on how the holidays go, but in the meantime, here's a work-week's-worth of story ideas for you. These are original and not in the books, free for you to use (though it'd be cool if you'd send me a link to share!), and show you the sorts of thing that will be in the books! You can buy Vol 1 up there where it says Shop at the top of the page.
Your character wakes up with the lamest super power they can think of after a weird event that everyone seems to remember differently--but the city is in danger and any power is better than none. Even lame ones. How do they step up? How do they turn a lame power I to a gift--or a weapon? What do they do to turn the tide of crime in their city?
Some kooks on the street are suddenly super-insistent that the end times are near--but not for the usual reasons. These guys say it's because something people have done has drawn the attention of an old god so terrible, just having it's attention causes destruction, and we should try to be inconspicuous. The worst part is that it's true. So what do your characters do about it? How do they fail and what happens when they do? How many people make it through?
Deep, deep under the ocean, scientists find a weird signal and a strange object that May or may not be the source. Do they figure out what the message says? How? Or how not? If they do, what does it mean to them and to the world? What happens when they investigate the site? Is this a scary warning story, or an optimistic best-of-humanity story?
What looks like an oil slick that just appears on the surface of the sea one morning turns out to be an engine leak from an alien ship just on the other side of a weak spot in reality. Who is called in to help, and what do they do about it? How does it affect the ecosystem, and how does it change the life native to our side? Is there more to this than just an accident--though a very strange one?
The first batch of clones to be successfully created and brought to maturity turns out to be a hive mind--which is definitely unexpected. Is this a big or a feature? How do the scientists feel about it vs how the clones do? Why were the clones created, and what do they think about this purpose? Does being a hive mind mean they automatically agree on everything, or is it just that they can't hide their thoughts? Are they smarter than regular people? What do they think about the people who created them, and what do they do?