“So, where do you get your ideas from?” Greg asked me today in yoga class.
My short, extremely nervous answer was, “The words are always in mind. I see things as a movie, with the action, the characters, the setting.”
I’ve been thinking all week about how and where people might find creative inspiration. For some of us who surrender to the pushing, poking, or drive to express that which moves through us, it comes from everywhere. People we meet, activities we participate in, the objects in our environment, thoughts about how to change something, our experiences, and for some, the ether. Much of the music that has captured my attention recently is in the context of living through pain, losing love, an interpretation of world or societal events. I wrote in an email to a friend that I thought I was drawn to these lyrics because I am ‘old’ enough to have lived through what these artists are expressing. I can relate. It is the same explanation that my students give for why they listen to bands such as Slipknot and Opeth. They can identify with the anger. The teacher and counselor in me wishes to explore this further with them, discuss perhaps more appropriate ways to express their emotions rather than physically injuring themselves in mosh pits and mosh circles at concerts.
But there is so much more that all of us can ‘relate’ to besides intense emotions. In a previous blog, I offered suggestions to allow the creative impulses to express themselves in some art form, whether that is playing music, dancing, painting, or writing. In another blog, I gave an exercise for writing poetry. Because of the thought circling my mind the past several days, and Greg’s question, I decided to offer a couple of experiments you could do, just to see where they lead. These might be beneficial for those who believe they cannot draw a straight line with a rule, carry a tune in a bucket, or that they have two left feet.
1) At any time during the day, if you’re inside, take a step outside your house or office. Look up at the sky. What do you see? Clouds? Birds? An airplane? Write it down. What are the details that you can physically observe? What color(s), action, direction is the object? Write it down. Now ask yourself, what might be happening in the plane? With the bird? How far did the water molecules in the cloud travel before it arrived in the sky for you to see? Write it down.
2) On your next ride to work, or home, or the store in your vehicle, observe a person walking on the sidewalk or sitting at the light in the car next to you. Don’t stare where they might think it’s creepy, but casually take in a few details. Put them in a setting (time and place). Give them an action that perhaps they just completed, or one that will occur in the near future. Write it down.
3) When in a restaurant or in line at the bank where people are talking,or listening to a favorite song, close your eyes and imagine what the person looks like physically. Now put them in a situation that would have them speaking or singing those words. Write it down.
The invitation here is to be interested (thanks, Eric!!) in your experience. After jotting down a few notes about your observations, sit quietly a minute with your eyes closed and ask how the details want to be expressed. A dance? A particular piece of music? A sketch? A poem? The ‘things’ we create are just another expression of the objects in our environment, as experienced through us and our perception, which acts as a filter. Ten people could see the same cloud floating in the blue sky, and write, draw, paint, compose, or move in ten different ways to express what they perceived the cloud to be. Just to have a little fun, try my suggestion of observing something or someone, and not write it down, and then observe something else, and do the activity. Is there a difference in how you feel?
I’ve played around with observations from my environment. If you haven’t read the poems and short stories posted on my web site, you can view them at www.myjoyenterprises.com The poem describing the homeless woman is close to being posted.