January 20, 2011

Sources of Inspiration

A few days ago my son posted on his blog about finding inspiration for a new writing project while washing dishes. He and his wife live in Abu Dhabi and have had a variety of experiences--good, bad, humorous, irritating, etc. (including tremors from an earthquake far away in Pakistan)--but it was left to hot, sudsy water to provide a creative spark.

The same is true for me as a writer. Creative ideas come most often when I'm performing daily, mundane tasks that require little mental engagement--raking leaves, taking a walk, cruising grocery aisles, swimming laps, digging up a garden patch. It's as if physical activity allows the creative part of my brain to get in gear and the sparks fly! The same is true when I'm stuck on where to go next with plot or character in an ongoing project. I've found it's best to stop thinking about the problem and go do some mindless activity.

However, I draw the line at any sort of housework. Cleaning, dusting, or vacuuming is so distasteful that it blocks any creative idea that might be trying to get through.

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