For Part One, click here.
Inspiration is a tricky subject. The muse strikes when she will, but you can romance her a bit, so to speak. It’s worth mentioning this in a separate post because this is the first step, but also often overlooked. Also, this information all applies to any creative endeavor.
Some tips for getting inspiration:
Figure out what inspires you, then immerse yourself in it. Music, art, literature, nature… there’s all sorts of things that inspire specific people. Once you figure it out, then just get out there and explore. The idea is to fill your subconscious with raw material to swirl around. Besides going on deliberate outings of exploration, it’s also good to surround yourself with stuff that inspires you on a daily basis. Creative friends are also a great thing to surround yourself with—they’ll inspire, teach, and encourage you, either directly or indirectly. Besides, they’ll enrich your life like profoundly.
Besides what naturally inspires you, it can be useful to use some source of randomness to inspire you, especially when stuck. It’ll force your brain to travel down different avenues of thought—just remember to stick with it, and know that every concept is connected to every other in some way, so even the most off-beat example has something to do with the answer to your problem. The point is to use your intuition—even tertiary associations can be the key you’re looking for.
Sometimes it can help to sit back and let the muse work it out. One of the most useful processes can be to get a strong sense of what you’re trying to do, immerse yourself in inspiration for a while, and then wait for the muse to whisper.
4—Break it down:
Sometimes, when you’re struggling to piece something together, it’s useful to break it up into individual pieces, and then look for references of what other people have done with those pieces. Joining together ideas to create something new, aka Synthesis, can be one of the most powerful ways to create new and quality ideas.
5—Use your right brain*:
Assembling a collage of images, of all the pieces, for example, can help you get inspired. Or just write or draw things all over a page of non-ruled paper—the point is to use your visual pattern-recognizing power and intuition to make new connections.
6—Use your left brain*:
Use frameworks, tools, formulas, quizzes, or just set constraints for yourself. Formulas get a bad wrap, but that’s because some people keep recycling the same subset of possibilities of really narrow formulas. Using them as a jump off point, and exploring unusual ways to fill the fields, so to speak, or even deliberately breaking or reversing one part of the formula can be useful tricks. The point is, when you set limits, paradoxically you tend to feel more creative—partly because giving your brain a starting point tends to active the right brain too.
7—Listen to comedy
Surprised? This one was actually validated by a study. Comedy is all about playing with different ways of thinking about things—and it inspires creative thinking.
There are many other ways to help find inspiration. If you’re looking for more, I recommend A Whack on the Side of the Head, or A Kick in the Seat of the Pants by Roger von Oech.
*Okay, so the functions of the left and right brain aren’t actually as clearly delineated as once believe, so right and left brain thinking isn’t wholly accurate, but it’s a useful shorthand for discussing digital versus analog thinking.
Next post, I’ll apply these tips and start building an adventure.
The latest version of Legend of Luth is available for download here.
All images, writing, characters, artwork and related indicia are (c) Earl Isbell
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