What Sparks Creativity?

  [kree-ey-tiv-i-tee, kree-uh-]
1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships,or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination; the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
3. the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity (dictionary.reference.com)

On the surface the question What sparks your creativity? might seem simple, but in truth, it can be complicated.  For the purpose of this blog, creativity has to do with writing, and depending on where I am in my writing--at the beginning while looking for a new idea, in the middle while I'm juggling to keep the story interesting, or near the final chapters while knowing that characters and a story that have become part of me are about to come to an end--I'm going to use different things to spark the creative elements I need.

The idea for a story is usually sparked by a character or an incident.  Both of those can be sparked by different things, including lyrics of a song, a mention of something in the news (print or other media), a movie, a book, a photo, or a snippet of overheard conversation.  In other words, anything.

Before I begin to write the first words of the story, there are things I have to know, and those things spark creativity in a different way.  Although I didn't do it in the past, I now search for pictures of my characters.  Some have come from magazines, and others are ones I've found online.  If a house is going to be integral in the story, I might search for a photo with floorplan and save & print both.  I've researched areas of the country that have netted some great information, opening up new possibilities for a story or future stories.  I start creating a music playlist, and while I don't constantly listen to it or other music while writing, when I hit a spot that's giving me trouble, I'll key up the playlist and listen to the songs I've chosen for that character or storyline.

If an idea strikes at a time when I'm not able to write--which happens often--I'll make short notes so I don't forget.  Struggling with aspects of one story can do this, as will coming to the end of writing the one I've been working on for some time.  If I'm having problems with any aspect of writing the story, I brainstorm with one or both of my brainstorming buddies.

And when there are times that I absolutely cannot find anything to spark even a shred of creativity, I let it go and take a breather.  Creativity has never failed to return.  Because it's been a part of my life for as far back as I can remember, I'm not too worried. :)


Reese Mobley said...

I love it when one idea hits and then it's like your fingers can't keep up. The way the idea grown feels like a snowball down a hill sometimes. May we all have lots of snow this year! lol

Joan Vincent said...

I've had the snowball effect and the barren desert too. What really gets me is when I wake up in the middle of the night with a "brilliant" idea on how to solve a hickup in a story and don't write it down!

Rox Delaney said...

Reese, I'd love to experience that snowball effect right now! Writing has come in fits and starts lately, and I keep hoping that spark will happen. Until then, it's slog and sprint. Snow would be very welcome! I'll wax the sled, if you'll wax the skis. ;)

Rox Delaney said...

Joan, I've unfortunately had that light bulb moment very recently and even though I keep a pad, pen, and small light by my bed, I didn't reach over and grab any of them. Still banging my head against the wall over it. I remembered a few things, but there's still something elusive that I can't quite wrap my mind around.

Sadder still? I know better than to think I'll remember.

Melissa Robbins said...

I've been known to get up in the middle of the night because my characters won't stop talking to me.

Rox, I like your character playlist idea. I have music for scenes. I do have that one swing song for Jack, but I should look into the playlist thing for the rest of my characters.

Rox Delaney said...

Melissa, I have a few basic playlists that I can pull from. One is titled "Walking" that I use when on the treadmill, which doesn't happen often. *grin* Or sometimes I turn it on if I need a lift.

The other is for writing and includes a variety of "romantic" tunes for all occasions. That's where I pull the songs for more specific WIP playlists. It does mean some overlapping, and not all are specific to just one book.

It's not a new idea. I remember when Phantom of the Opera first came out, it seemed to be on everyone's playlist. As it turned out, mine wasn't one of them. LOL Each writer has to choose what works best. If a specific song or songs help you write a scene, it's all good!

Starla Kaye said...

I enjoyed the definitions, especially "the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules..." I'm all about going my on way with creativity. Something which I will expound more on in my post next week.

Penny Rader said...

I find pictures to be helpful, too, Rox. I'm forever pulling pics out of magazines. Pics of people, homes, rooms, places ... even abstract pics that catch my eye.