He tried not to tap his fingers on the lacquered wood tabletop as he waited for my answer.
Where does creativity come from?
“Everywhere! Ideas and glimpses of stories are everywhere in this great big beautiful world!” While this makes perfect sense inside my own head, I realize it’s not a very satisfying answer for other people.
Identify your inspiration
Okay, let’s break it down. Example: Miss Evangeline’s Home for Wayward Women. The word “wayward” had been rolling around in my thoughts. I’d been contemplating the evolution of language and wonderful words that we don’t hear too often anymore. At the same time, I knew there was a story waiting to be told. What’s better than wayward? Wayward women, of course!
Frame it in a format
Next, I heart the South. That probably began with Gone with the Wind. I loved the book and saw the restored and colorized movie adaptation several times during its limited run at a local theatre (much better than DVD!). Third, I adore historical fiction. That probably comes from my reading of Norman Mailer and James A. Michener when I was a teenager. My own writing ventures are fairly recent and I find the historical fiction genre more challenging to write.
Find your setting
Some days, you just need to shake things up! Okay, let’s do it! The challenge for me is staying true to important historical facts. Where to start? Hmm…what’s going on…I can’t focus. I’d like to take a nap by the water under the trees. Recently, the temperatures have soared — it’s hot hot hot, babycakes. How hot? Mississippi heat, baby. Mississippi! Okay, we have our setting.
Tell your tale
What’s the story, morning glory? Hmm. Pick one. Something I haven’t done yet…a story about a group of women, everyday life, against the backdrop of tumultuous historical times. Okay, so, what are these women doing? Thinking, thinking, tap, tap…I click back over to Joe Storey’s recent post over at 1537 because the Rolling Stones’ The Marquee Club Live In 1971 is fantastic. Haha, Joe guessed that I’m in prison. Hey! They’re in prison! In the South. In the 1800s. Is this even plausible? Let’s check our historical facts. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information on this topic, but yes, yes it’s historically accurate…or at least not historically impossible. (Unless we time travel! Yes — ! No. Stop that. Focus. One idea at a time.)
Move it on over, honey
Let’s write! Good advice I’ve come across that also applies to me: get out of the characters’ way. Get out of the story. I’ve found that my stories often don’t turn out how I’d intended. (Maybe never. I’d have to go back and check.) I start with an idea and something else gets written. I don’t know why this happens, only that it does. I used to try to force my ideas to fruition but the story that wanted to be told won every time.
Unlock your imagination
In this example, I started with the idea of a group of women in prison and imagined what this would be like…in Mississippi in the 1800s. I started writing and Miss Evangeline took over the story immediately. I don’t know where she came from. Then, Eric and Mrs. Lampore’s class jumped in. I was surprised when that happened, but who am I to argue? They’re about a century and a half apart — hey, we’re time travelling after all! The prisoners themselves will come into their story, if I keep writing.
Let your creativity run wild and free
I believe that we’re all creative. Pick something that you like. Focus long enough to develop your idea. Then let yourself run with it. Maybe instead of running with it, a better description is: try to keep up with it. Get out of your own way. Let your idea come to life. Challenging yourself can be fun, but it’s okay (and maybe preferable) to do what comes easiest. Just start.
So, wheredya get your ideas? Close your eyes and let them come to you. Relax into your creativity and let it flow. Your writing, art, music, design…it will develop before you, if you let it.
“Okay,” he nodded. “You can have more coffee now.”
Haha, awesome. How about some ice with it?