I’m thinking about the ways that we come with up ideas to write about. I’ve seen authors inspired by news stories, life events, or other people’s writing. Those things are only occasionally useful to me.
The same is true of writing prompts. Sometimes, I can be inspired by a challenge to imagine a drunken night or to fill in a beginning like, “The worst part was what Mindy saw…” However, I tend to work outside of these things. The minute somebody issues a partial idea for me to implement, I tend to freeze up and forget how to write entirely. Suddenly, I hear “The worst part was what Mindy saw” and my mind clunks around awkwardly going…baaaah…baby elephants? Carrots? Wait, bigger plan needed. Baby elephants who stomp kittens to death! Yikes, what the fuck is wrong with me? Carrots. Maybe the carrots are full of pesticides and taste bad? Huh. This thing is not looking promising. The (imagined and nonexistent) pressure gets to me and all creativity gets weird and messed up in ways that are not so useful. This is the joy of wanting to be perfect and please everyone; you automatically default to a scrambling, spastic worrier with deranged notions about baby elephants.
So I go to new places where I can people watch, and better still, eavesdrop. I like listening in and pulling out a random sentence, using that to work from and create around. Since no one knows what I am doing and no one is standing there observing my clunking brain, I relax and passively soak in the info. Then, since there are zero expectations of me, I am like, KABOOM! Ideas for ideas sake! Yay, no one gives a crap and I can do anything I want! Stories happening all over the place!
This exuberance leads to a lot of scraps of ideas, some of which will likely come to nothing. However, there are often at least one or two viable things written in my notebook. The same is true when I find random objects and photos, or hunt around for them in thrift stores or antique shops. I hone in on some bit of randomness and want to write about it.
I’m wondering what others of you do? If you write, draw, whatever creative thing, how do you keep going? What makes you think, “this, this is the thing I want to share” when there are so many different options? Do you ever hold back because of what someone else might think?
Also, if you see red cat eye glasses peering at you over a notebook, please disregard. Keep talking about how it got strange during your colonoscopy.