Friday, May 27, 2005

Let's Share: When Do You Get Your Best Ideas?

This whole new world of blogging has led me to think more about writing, and thinking about writing has caused me to revisit a question I have asked myself from time to time: namely, where does creative inspiration come from? And are there things I can do and specific places I can do them to encourage it to come more often?

One of the things I've noticed is that there are certain activities I can take part in that lead naturally to creative ideas flying into my brain. Since blogging at its best is an interactive medium, my primary reason for posting this today is to ask all of you readers -- when do you get your best ideas? What activities are likely to provide you with the inspiration for new ideas, plans, and dreams?

I'll tell you a few of the patterns I've found in my life, and then I'll leave the floor to you for your comments.

First of all, I don't know a lot of Freud, and much of what I do know I don't agree with, but I've bought into the idea of the constant battle between the conscious and subconscious parts of our minds. Our conscious mind is the stronger big brother, dealing with the minute-to-minute details and making the big decisions that allow us to survive. The subconscious is the dreamy little brother, shut up in his room, listening to Pink Floyd and lounging on his bed, but always thinking, thinking, thinking. He comes up with great creative ideas and long-range plans, but big brother rarely lets him get a word in edgewise.

The only times I've found that my subconscious can slip those wonderful creative ideas in where I can get at them is when I'm doing mundane, routine, repetitive, sometimes downright boring tasks. It's as if the conscious mind says, "This is so easy I can put this on autopilot and take a nap. Subconscious little bro, if you've got something to say, now's your chance."

(What a brilliant explanation of the conscious and subconscious mind! Nobel committee, send the check here.)

Anyway, here's the three mundane activities I engage in that best free my subconscious thoughts and act as the most reliable incubators for my strange whimsies:

JOGGING -- I tend to get my best, most complex ideas coming to the surface when I'm running. In fact, the idea for this post came to me and was fleshed out during a run, as a number of my other posts have been. The only problem with jogging is I can't really bring along a pen and notepad to write down ideas while I'm running, or I'd get no "running" done at all. And carrying a microcassette recorder and talking into it while running would be entirely too dweeby, even for Muley.

An aside: I've decided that if I ever try to write a book, the only way I'm going to marshal the creative brainpower will be to run up Interstate 35 from here to Minnesota -- that ought to do it.

CUTTING GRASS -- Talk about a monotonous activity. Same yard, same weeds, same mower, same pattern. Yawn. I get some great ideas when I'm out mowing, and I can stop and write them down without any problem. The only danger is that when I'm in the middle of a big inspirational riff, I get a bit distracted, a fact that's caused me to lose a few toes. But do we really need ten of them? I think not.

TAKING A SHOWER -- Given my druthers, I'd probably direct my brain to access my vast store of tunes while I'm showering so that I could sing to my heart's content, but my shower is next to our breakfast room, and my kids would hear every note I bleated while I got clean in the mornings. For their future mental health, I spare them this. Instead, I sometimes let my subconcious thoughts flow, but there's always the problem of writing them down. Is there a pen that works in the shower? Should I ask Mrs. Muley to come in and take dictation?

Anyway, those are my favorite places and activities to inspire new creative ideas. Please leave me your comments and let me know -- when and where do you get your best ideas? If I receive enough good responses, I promise to assemble them in a subsequent post and share them with everybody.

I can't wait to read your responses.

Quote of the day:

"Don't just pretend that you love others; really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy in your work but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always. When God's children are in need, you be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night."

--Romans 12:9-13 (Living Bible)


nightfly said...

I get my best ideas when I'm too bushed to actually bother with the work of writing them up. Or I get them at work, which is the same difference. I've gotten in the habit of carrying a pen and some 3x5 index cards all over the place, which means that I have a pile of them at home waiting for further action.

Katalina B said...

Reading Muley’s BLOG has spurred a thought or two...need I say more???

Katalina B said...

Hmm...well... This might sound a bit strange, but when I am asleep. Most of what I call my (ahem...I know you can hear me clearing my throat here...) “book” material comes from my dreams. There have been some nights (...I should say EARLY mornings) where I have had dreams and have woke up saying to myself, “ that is a great material for a short story or book!” I have rushed to my computer (sitting in the dark with my eyes closed so that I do not lose the “visual(s)” that I had in my dream) and have typed everything (and I do mean every little detail from scenes to character descriptions) that I can recall from the dream. Please note: These stories (and there are many) are still in my computer files...waiting for me to retire from my everyday “conscious” world that you write about. (My husband laughs at me because if he wakes me during one of these dreams...I mumble (more like yell at him) to leave me alone and once he does, I immediately return to the dream right where I left off prior to being awakened!) Note: this is only if I have had a good dream!

Other ideas have come to me when I am driving (alone). Lucky for me I have my “trusty” little Panasonic SV-AV30!! (The SV is a tiny little digital still camera, movie, audio recorder, and MP3 player/recorder). I absolutely adore this gadget! I will record a thought or take a picture of something that spurs my thoughts. There are times though, that I listen or view what I have previously recorded and think to myself, “What was I thinking??? That material is absolutely BORING!

Walking. No description with this...the thoughts just come to me and as soon as I return home, I enter the thoughts into the computer...if I have my little gadget as mentioned above, I will listen (or view) what has spurred the thought. If it is still worthy of pen or creation, I make a note in the computer and file away (unless I choose to take immediate action and start working on the writing or project right away).

Because I am a bookbinder (amateur), I get a lot of ideas for pages and covers from magazines, books in the libraries, antique shows. Once again, my recorder and digital camera come in handy to “capture” those moments and/or thoughts.

Swimming. I can recall (back in Hawai’i) swimming along...floating along...and thinking of some great ideas...

Kate said...

Swimming was always good for me too...also playing the piano (I don't play very well, but it does seem to help me transcend my conscious mind). Otherwise....I find I just have to start writing, or talking, and the thoughts just start flowing. My husband is a great sounding board, and my thoughts are always much more fleshed out when I've had a chance to talk them out with him.

Stacy said...

Not to be rude, and thanks for stopping by, but, I'm live in Colorado. I was born and raised here. Estes is about an 1 1/2 away from our home. But, I will be posting pics. Thanks.

jenA said...

there are these things called soap crayons. a good idea might take up a wall, though. they're pretty thick.