What Fuels Creativity?

The fourth DIY MFA prompt asks us to consider what fuels are creativity. How do we get ideas? What helps us shake off the doldrums of an uncreative slump? It’s not a simple subject, and it can be difficult for us to understand our relationships with our own muses. But here’s a few thoughts I shared in response to the prompt.

The basic kernel of an idea can come from almost anywhere, just looking out the window and seeing a pattern in the sky, overhearing a snippet of strangers’ conversation or watching a movie and thinking “That’s interesting, but I could come up with something even more fun!”

For me, the real challenge is further developing those germs of ideas. That’s where the work comes in. Once I get moving, I find that the act of writing itself leads to a lot of additional ideas and directions that need to further developed and managed. The challenge is often keeping things moving and keeping them focused.

I also will read books and watch movies relevant to what I’m writing (that’s why I’ve recently been pulling out old Doc Savage books I got when I was a kid and rewatching the Indiana Jones movies). And I always listen to music while I write, as it just seems to give me more energy and stamina to keep going.

On a related note, I would recommend the free e-book A Course in Demonic Creativity: A Writer’s Guide to the Inner Genius by Matt Cardin to anyone who is trying to sort out their relationship with their personal muse, daemon, unconscious mind, call it what you will … This book is a great resource that provides practical guidance on how to get better in tune with the creative spirit. It also has great footnotes that can lead you to all sorts of interesting scholarly works about creativity, the unconscious mind, etc.