Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Creative Mind - Where Ideas come from

I had a conversation on Friday with a student who showed me her senior project video.  She'd choreographed the big cheer/dance number for homecoming.  

"Where did you get the inspiration?" I asked.

She smiled and told me she was getting nothing from the Homecoming theme song but found this other song and one 8-beat step popped in her head.  That step ended up being the middle of her number.  From there she worked to the end, then backtracked to the beginning.  She said she could picture it in her head.  The routine was flawless and she managed to teach it successfully to the whole squad.

My partner works with found materials and scrap yard iron to make beautiful sculpture.  Random bits of metal speak to her when she walks through her studio, telling her what they want to become.  Things that look like garbage become horses or birds or leaning figures.  Inanimate objects are imbued with personality.

Writing is like this, too.  Often you hear of writers who have ideas come fully formed in dreams (think Twilight) or they hear some snippet on the news that spurs the idea or a friend throws out a single sentence (Beauty Queens).  'What if' questions generate story lines, as do overheard conversations or memories of childhood.

My current project, the post-apocolyptic horse girl story, came about with all this talk of the end of the world.  I started thinking what if the world ended today.  I live way down a very crooked mountain road and I imagined all the possible road crumblings and bridge fallings.  Then I said to myself, well I have horses, at least that's something.  The story took off from there and grew legs and hooves of its own.

The creative mind is an endless fascination.  That these solid bodies can disappear into crevices of our mind and pull forth song, story, art, and dance is, to me, the main gift of being human.

Where do you find your inspiration?


  1. Wow, your new story sounds fantastic! I will be first in line when you are finished!

  2. Well, this is an interesting subject for me right now. My first book came to me whole. I couldn't write it fast enough. The premise was inspired by a song from 30 Seconds To Mars (Hurricane) and made me wonder: what could make a good man do something truly terrible and against his nature? I found inspiration in a lot of the music I listen to. That book was so easy to write.

    Now, however, I'm working on my second, and while the premise is full and interesting, I just can't seem to get it all together plot-wise. But I am listening to music (3 Days Grace, Escape the Fate) that does inspire a certain course to my plot. Here's wishin' is could be so easy again!

  3. How cool it came to you whole cloth from a song! I rarely listen to music when I write - I get so influenced - I prefer to keep the voices in my head. But it seems like plenty of writers have extensive playlists to get into the mood of a book. I've thought of trying it, maybe next WIP.

  4. I find a lot of inspiration in the books I read--that's what inspired my first novel. But a lot of things can set off the spark that leads to a story idea; a random thing will happen and I'll be scrambling for a pen and paper to write it down. :)


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