How Creative People Think ~ Getting Ideas

30 Dec

I found this lovely little article on yahoo today and thought that I would share it with you. It was all about the creative mind and how it processes situations and obstacles differently than others.  This got me thinking about being creative in writing, getting ideas, and how we get them.

I think a lot of people who have never written or drawn or made a serious “creative connection” with any of the arts have a hard time understanding exactly what goes on in the mind of a creative person. Even those who perceive the world in a creative way have difficulty understanding exactly where ideas come from and how there rough origins form into the full story, or the finished drawing, or even the lines of a song.

I think that we have trouble understanding these things because no one talks about them. Mostly because we sound crazy when we do. But, for the good of all of you people out there who have wondered about the creative mind were going to crack open my skull and take a peek.

O.O its dark in here…

So, to begin how does an idea start? I know people (especially those mathematicians and scientists whose minds work in sequences and algorithms) want a specific answer. A step by step analyzes of the things that must occur in order to have an idea. I hate to cut you all down here but it doesn’t work like that, and believe me it is no conspiracy of us creative people to keep you out of ideas. It just doesn’t occur like that.

Ideas just… happen. I know this is a horrible answer. A very unsatisfying explanation for something so complex. Ideas come from everywhere and no where. The best way that I can think to describe this is to say: Eureka! This word is probably the best summary of where ideas come from. The Definition of Eureka is as follows:

An exclamation used as an interjection to celebrate a discovery. It comes from the Ancient Greek Ερηκα/Ηρηκα – Heurēka/Hēurēka meaning literally “I have found”.

That’s exactly how ideas come about: they are found. We stumble upon them in the dark recesses of our minds, or happen to glance at something in just the right way that springs open a previously locked door in our consciousness. When authors say there ideas come from all around they aren’t just saying it to shut the questioner up or to give a quick vague answer. They are telling the truth. Creative people are just those who leave themselves open to ideas. Who don’t fight it when there mind comes up with a ridiculous crazy thing. These people encourage it, nurture it. It’s like stumbling upon a small wild flower wilting in the sun. We don’t just glance at it and put it out of our minds. We get as close as we can to it and nurture it back to health if we can.

This brings us to our second point. How these ideas grow into full formed stories. That is another deal entirely. Once you stumble upon this “wisp of a story” you can’t really be sure it will come to be anything. Ideas often take full form when connections are made with other things. Like the legos you used to play with when you were a kid. One lego by itself is insignificant. Yeah it’s red and shiny and new, but its nothing until its part of something else.

That’s how my consciousness is all the time; legos (AKA ideas) are just lying around in there, scattered all over. Bits of dialogue, a place, a character sketch, a feeling. They all just lay there until they are put together. Ideas never come in a complete neat little package with a bow on top. They just don’t. You have to put the pieces together, and sometimes things just don’t work out. A piece doesn’t fit right here or a lego juts out too much here. Sometimes the whole structure has to be torn down. Other times you only end up with half a building and have to wait to find the other half. It just depends.

Relaying on stumbling upon an idea for a living may sound like relaying on luck. Which, believe you me some of it is, but a lot of it is also being open to stumbling upon things. Not staying on the beaten path. Going looking for things by taking a direct root will not work. Its like looking for that missing CD or Library card, and no matter how hard you look you can not find it. Making yourself come up with ideas, for the most part, will only produce dust bunnies (AKA bad/corny ideas).

Ideas come when you are not looking for them when you are just meandering around your house and you suddenly spot that CD (get an idea) even thought you had no intention of looking for it. You just stumble upon it. Eureka!

I’m going to make this little post into a series I think. Next time I’m going to talk about creating characters. Stat tuned after these  commercial messages. BEEP…


3 Responses to “How Creative People Think ~ Getting Ideas”

  1. HaleyWhitehall December 31, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    This is a great article. I’ve been asked several times to explain how I get my ideas. I can’t. They just come to me. This article described how my brain works almost perfectly from getting ideas to growing stories. I can’t believe someone could actually put it into words.

    • nkeda14 January 1, 2011 at 12:17 am #

      Thanks I’m pretty big on metaphors and I find they come across really well when you are trying to explain something so abstract.

      I get asked this question a lot and know other writers do too. So, I decided it was time for everyone to get there answer… or at least my version of the answer. 😀


  1. Top 11 Posts of 2011 « NOVEL IDEAS - December 16, 2011

    […] 10. How Creative People Think- Getting Ideas […]

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