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Where do you get your ideas?


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#1    pantodragon

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 03:24 PM

I remember many years ago there was a fashion in psychology for classing people as --- now I have forgotten the terms used, but, basically, it classed people as creative or non-creative according to whether they had one type of mind or the other.  Scientists were prime examples of one type, the non-creative type, and artists were prime examples of the other type, the creative type.  I do not know what the current position is on these matters, whether it is still thought that the scientific mind is a non-creative mind, while the artistic mind is creative.

Nor do I know what the thinking was as regards the ability to ‘learn’.  Was it thought that a scientist could learn to think like an artist and become creative, and that an artist could learn to think like a scientist and become, what, analytical?  And if so, was it supposed that the two mind-sets could co-exist happily in the one head?

All that was several decades ago, and I have not kept up with current thinking, so what contemporary ideas on these matters are I do not know.

On the radio the other day, I heard a novelist replying to the interviewer’s query concerning his next writing project that a novelist friend of his who was just coming to the end of his latest novel (this being summer), had said that he hoped he did not get another idea before Christmas.  The implication is that ideas are considered rare and valuable so that, when you get one, you dare not throw it away.  I have heard similar sentiments expressed by other writers and artists.

By contrast, I once heard the short story writer, RK Naryan, talking about his experience of getting ideas.  He said that every morning he would go to his window, open the curtains and look down on the street below, and the ideas would just come flooding into his head.  Everything he saw, every person, every object, suggested a story to him.

I have experienced something similar to what Naryan described.  The first time I remember it happening was when I took up photography.  I was doing landscapes, and after a while, I could not go for a walk but everywhere I looked I saw photographs.  The thing just would not switch off and just let me enjoy a walk in the country with a relaxed mind wandering wherever it wanted.

Then I experienced the same thing when I was working with papier mache and with other assorted arts and crafts.  In fact, it became a problem: whatever I did the ideas just kept flooding into my head and giving me no rest.   There were far too many ideas for me to use, but that was OK; what bothered me was that my mind was going like a machine out of control, a runaway engine, and it would keep going even when I was trying to read a novel or watch TV etc.

This sounds like the bright half of what used to be called manic-depression, but which is now (I think) called bipolar disorder (what was wrong with manic-depression?  Did sufferers find the term insulting for some reason?  Or has the one disorder now been teased out into 5 different conditions all requiring new names?).  Anyway, I did not like the condition (though it did not come with depression as a sort of ‘hang-over’) because, like I said, it just felt that my mind was like a runaway train --- it did not stop me producing stuff, did not stop me from working, but it felt wrong, was interfering with my other pleasures etc.

I gave up photography because of it, and similarly stopped doing other things whenever my mind took off like that.

At first the only remedy I had was to just do things for a very short time, and when the runaway train started, to drop what I was doing and do something else.  However, I was inspired to try doing photography in a different way: basically, I just pointed the camera and clicked.  That is, I did not ‘compose’ the picture, and did not take pains with the light levels and focus etc.  I did not do landscapes then, at least, not just landscapes.  Anything would do.  Whenever anything caught my attention I just pointed the camera and clicked.

That put paid to the runaway train effect.  Of course, I was no longer doing what would be considered ‘good photography’.  But the interesting thing was that I found that I really, really liked a lot of the stuff I was doing.

I applied the same principle to my other artistic endeavours and got the same result: no runaway train, and my work was outside the normal rules, not what the ‘experts’ would call ‘good’ art.  But I also found that the more I worked this way, the more I liked the things I was creating, from fiction and poetry, to painting and craftwork of all sorts………

………and just as, or even more, importantly, I LIKED doing things this way.  Whereas before, I was trying to achieve standards that were set by the Art Establishment, Academics, collectors etc, now I had only myself to please.  Gone was the frustration and tedium of having to polish and perfect.

To put it in a nutshell, I had changed from working like a ‘professional’ artist/writer/thinker etc, to working like a child.  I had learned to play all over again.  And playing is fun and creative and you are never short of ideas but they never impose on you either, and  you never run out of motivation and never burn out.

You NEVER HAVE TO WORK AT PLAYING.

The work I do now is very spontaneous and chaotic --- ie it obeys no rules.  I would liken comparing my ‘work’ with the work of professionals to comparing a wilderness to a garden.  My work has the untidiness and chaotic appearance of a wilderness, whereas professional work has the appearance of a well tended garden.

Apart from the fact that I prefer a wilderness to a controlled environment, the untidiness and chaotic appearance of a wilderness belies that fact that there is a deeper, more profound order than in a man-made environment.  Also, Mother Nature is endlessly creative…………

………in fact, I would say that I am now working in a ‘natural’ way, that I am emulating the kind of creative processes that go on in nature, the kinds of processes that can evolve a world teeming with all kind and varieties of life from just a collection of atoms………and being ‘natural’ it is effortless.

So I am not trying to control my creativity in any way, not trying to direct it.  I just play at things and see where it goes………and it goes places that are surprising.

For example: thinking.  Sometimes I just muse in my head, but lately I have learned to ‘think on paper’.  I just start writing, usually the take off point is something I have heard on the radio, or read etc, but I start with no plan in mind and no notion of where the writing is going to go.  It is very spontaneous.

The first time I tried writing like this was actually quite a few years ago when I tried writing ‘morning pages’ as described by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way.  For whatever reason, the outcome of her morning pages was quite different from the outcome of my ‘free writing’ --- I suspect because she was doing it as an ‘exercise’, work, almost like a bit of therapy to clear the mind, whereas I am simply PLAYING.

I think that last distinction is actually crucially important: the intention with which you do a thing matters very much.  So if two people do what looks like the same thing from the outside, but they have different motives for doing it, then the outcomes will be different.

Anyway, for me the outcome of this thinking, or, rather playing-on-paper is that I often, even usually, find myself arriving at new insights or ideas that enable my thinking on whatever subject to move on a bit.

If I was to try to describe what is happening in the mind when I write like this I would say this: having discarded the rule-books that were imposed on me from school onwards, which force you to do things almost exclusively in the conscious mind, most of the work of my mind happens in the subconscious.  It is as though my mind is a natural environment in which things grow and develop on their own without conscious effort on my part……except that what grows and develops is in some way directed by my own interests and concerns, likes and dislikes.  Then, when I do some spontaneous writing, it is like I am taking a walk through my subconscious mind and finding out what has happened, what developments there have been since I last took a walk there.

This is a piece of free writing, and what interest me is what I wrote about ‘intention’, and the idea that the importance of this writing is to bring the work of my subconscious into consciousness………these were not thoughts that I was conscious of before I did this writing.


#2    ReaperS_ParadoX

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 12:28 AM

I used to love art class throughout my school years and Not so much math class, I was usually drawing during math class actually. But I believe my ideas come from a lot of places, sometimes dreams or nightmares. I have a lot of nightmares

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#3    kannin

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 12:48 AM

music and children

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#4    LostSouls7

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 01:17 AM

I get inspired a lot by nature and the universe

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#5    GreenmansGod

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 01:44 AM

Today I was working on one of my paintings. I was doing a figure from a Welsh book of stories.  I kept going in and looking at the painting, then walking away. Finally I picked up the pencil and the figure seem to come down my hand, through pencil  and leap on the paper.  The inspiration comes from the stories.   The guy I put on the paper, I have no clue.  A lot of times when I am painting I don't remember doing it. In the zone I guess.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." Salman Rushdie

#6    kannin

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 02:12 PM

View PostDarkwind, on 05 July 2013 - 01:44 AM, said:

Today I was working on one of my paintings. I was doing a figure from a Welsh book of stories.  I kept going in and looking at the painting, then walking away. Finally I picked up the pencil and the figure seem to come down my hand, through pencil  and leap on the paper.  The inspiration comes from the stories.   The guy I put on the paper, I have no clue.  A lot of times when I am painting I don't remember doing it. In the zone I guess.
hmmm thats very interesting

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#7    Ryu

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 02:19 PM

This sounds stupid but I get my "ideas" from anime, games and so on.
Yes, I know it is not very original and I often end up taking a character and creating my own version of its life (one that is different from the story it came from).

Currently I am writing my own fan fiction involving an already existing game character but I am trying to either expand on its life or make a new one. I want it to have an actual life and a past....I want it to be more than just an image in a game but a character that has a life that no one sees or cares about.

In short I am not creative...never really was.


#8    GreenmansGod

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 02:48 PM

Sounds pretty creative to me, Ryu. If you weren't creative there would be no story.

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#9    StarMountainKid

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 03:09 PM

Sometimes other people's ideas give me ideas, sometimes ideas just happen in my head. Sometimes writing for me is very easy, sometimes I get stuck and have to stop and think.

I'm stuck right now on a story I've started. There are several ways the story could go, but I want its direction to proceed in an absurd direction, which I know will be complicated to work out by thinking about it.

But, whether creativity comes easily or by hard thinking, the process originates from the same place in the mind. I suppose this is where my imagination originates. Where this place is and how it operates is a mystery to me.

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#10    ReaperS_ParadoX

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 05:04 PM

Iv always liked H.P. Lovecraft's whole Chthulu Mytho's and It inspired me to make up gods of my own for this story I'm writing about this Grim Reaper, I see the Grim Reaper a LOT in my dreams.  But currently  the story has stalled.

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#11    kannin

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 09:29 PM

not to be rude but i get alot of ideas while im on the can, its just relaxing i guess lol

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#12    ReaperS_ParadoX

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 09:40 PM

View Postkannin, on 05 July 2013 - 09:29 PM, said:

not to be rude but i get alot of ideas while im on the can, its just relaxing i guess lol
Yeah its like you enter a zen mode lol

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#13    kannin

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 09:42 PM

View PostR4z3rsPar4d0x, on 05 July 2013 - 09:40 PM, said:

Yeah its like you enter a zen mode lol
indeed, lol i have 4 children and a wife, throne time is my only alone time! they enter at their own caution so they usually dont and for that ten minutes its complete silence and bliss and thats when all my ideas and thoughts hit me, built a couple of sweet toys for my kids from ideas from the can

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#14    Beany

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 03:48 PM

At the risk of sounding truly weird, some of my ideas seem to come out of left field, literally. They just pop into my head, seeming to be generated externally. Not all ideas, but some, and they're always good ones, as opposed to the ones I generate, which run the gamut from excellent to mind-numbingly boring or trite.


#15    GreenmansGod

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 04:04 PM

The Awen, the collective spirit of the Universe is what Druids call it.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." Salman Rushdie




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