Some form of this question is probably the most-asked query creative types get. I have my own systems for how ideas develop, and I have a feeling my process would strike horror or terror into others’ hearts!
I saw this on Facebook this week, and after thinking about it a while, decided to post it a couple of places. It speaks volumes that most of us cannot express, but that are so key to who we are. I’ve gotten great feedback from other creatives.
First off, let me say that I consider my creativity to be a gift, so I’m not complaining. But it isn’t easy. Ideas that seem so easy sometimes are so hard to bring to life you begin to wonder why you try. I talk in my classes about how creative souls have to take care of themselves because we don’t live in a world designed for us. We say we value art, but we measure things with money.
Like many creative types, I consider myself an introvert because of my need to be in my own head, but I am able to be extroverted and, indeed, quite charming. Lots has been written about how our current culture favors extroverts over introverts, even though there is nothing that would indicate that extroverts are better at anything except getting heard. If you feel you are an introvert, you might like to check out this. Be sure to check out the book. If you are an extrovert, you too might get some food for thought!
The first time I realized that I might have a process that not everyone else has, was when I was asked to give a talk to a knitting guild about where I get my ideas. I could have begun and ended the conversation by simply saying, “I get ideas from everything,” but something told me that wouldn’t be particularly compelling, and I had approximately 45 minutes to fill, so I had to go a little deeper!
The first thing I found as I looked at how ideas develop for me was how much I input into my system all the time. I read newspapers, listen to music, listen to radio, watch TV, look at magazines, go to concerts, read books, (this was before online really existed), look at art; I feel I am constantly scanning for things and filing them away. I don’t take photos (well now I do, but I didn’t then) and I don’t care if I end up with an “accurate” representation of something–how it ends up after going through my brain is all that matters. I do keep notebooks and make notes. But I don’t necessarily look back at them looking for specific ideas. I do quick sketches (really, almost cave-man drawings) with notes scratched on them so I can retrace things I’ve thought about.
I’m an insomniac which gives me time that I don’t always have during my day to work things over in my head. It is unclear which is the chicken and which the egg: insomnia or pondering. The fact that I have memories of being very young and being awake, tells me that I’ve been doing this for-ever. Indeed, in the dark anything is possible so it is a great time to dream whether awake or asleep.
Then you have to try to make those ideas develop into something. This is often painful. It most often involves going through levels of not-so-good stuff to get to where you intended to go. You just keep banging away until you run out of time, patience, or run into a roadblock that stops you (hopefully temporarily). Then you try again.
I emailed Ann Tudor with a request that she make me some cool martini picks. After some tries (she kept asking me, but I let her sort it out to her satisfaction) she came up with this design. Then made the ornament. This is what happens when creatives are let be–they come up with great designs that work for them and for others.