Writer shares tips on how to get creative
Whether you’re a budding novelist, screenwriter, or poetry lover, spring is the perfect time to kick-start your creative muse. The season is bursting with inspiration, so don’t miss the opportunity to explore something new for the sake of your own art. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Try a new kitchen. Simple and efficient. Just be sure to dine in and avoid takeout, as it’s all about immersing yourself in different social atmospheres and being exposed to other cultures.
While living in Seattle, I tried new foods every week at Pike Place Market and around town. Whether Afghan, Puerto Rican, Malaysian, Russian, French – you name it, I tried it. I also revisited several of my favorite places. I hung out with the shopkeepers and made friends with the cooks, servers and bartenders.
The aromas and explosion of new flavors alone will do wonders for your songwriting, and it’s something you can experience in your own neighborhood, with no jet set required. Bring your appetite, an open mind, and your tablet, in case inspiration strikes as you dig into this new curry dish.
2. Meet your alter ego. Have you ever encountered the opposite version of yourself? Nope? Now is the time to get to know your alter ego. Write down five things you think you would never do. Next, explore what might happen if you actually did some of the things on this list. Ask the same questions about your protagonist or the villain in your screenplay. What wouldn’t look like them?
Incentivize a new plot twist or breathe more life into your narrator by introducing a game-changing decision. Turn the tables or up the ante for your heroine. Invent new conflicts. This brainstorming activity is another effective way to connect with your muse, and you can do it right in your own backyard.
3. Declutter. I’m no psychology expert, but I know there are enough studies that suggest a major correlation between a clean space and a clear mind. Open your windows, roll up your sleeves and do some spring cleaning. Donate and reuse what you no longer need. Even think about rearranging your furniture.
Mental clutter is just as much of a hindrance to your creative writing as physical clutter. Say “no, thank you” to plans, people, or commitments that wear you down, interfere with basic self-care, or distract you from the larger goals of your project. Freeing up space will not only boost your creative flow, but will also eliminate writer’s block.
A common misconception about creative writing is that your best work comes from writing what you know. Having published both traditionally and independently in the past, I won’t deny that my nomadic lifestyle has made my writing more colorful. Researching killer whales, driving around the country, singing in random jam sessions, and working a multitude of eccentric jobs have undoubtedly enriched my life and, therefore, my creative work.
Method writing is a practical, not to say exciting, way to unleash inspiration, but it’s not the only way. Don’t worry if you haven’t had a chance to play the roles you want to write about. You’re not destined to write bland, unconvincing stuff just because you haven’t traveled abroad or lived off-grid in Alaska.
Your words matter. Your perspective on this life is one of a kind, and the world needs everything you have to share, so find inspiration right where you are.
Don’t start with what you know or where you have been, but work with what you have, where you are right now. Start in the garden, plant seeds and see what grows. You might surprise yourself.