I recently came across the saying – “Creativity is intelligence having fun,” which is often incorrectly attributed to Einstein (the correct attribution is unknown). The phrase resonated with me, although I would rephrase it to “Creativity is hard work having fun.”
At any rate, the saying made me think about how story ideas come about. At times it may seem that a novel idea develops magically in our brain–inspiration, we call it. Other times, you need to work at it to find our way. The truth is that the two processes (the apparent magic and the painstaking approach) are not that dissimilar.
Novel ideas seldom (I would even venture to say never) come from nowhere. They are usually a manifestation of our experiences and the thoughts and analysis we bring to those experiences. When they appear ‘like magic’, it is likely because our subconscious has been quietly working, storing and organizing information and making associations between our ideas and experiences. When we work at making those connections with mind maps, charts, brainstorming, and so on, we make that subconscious thought-process conscious. We are creating inspiration.
On the flip side, we can encourage inspiration by giving our subconscious as much support as possible.
- Give your brain a rest, downtime to develop ideas, turn problems and experiences around.
- Give your brain time to have fun.
- Expose yourself to ideas by reading, listening.
- Make the subconscious conscious by thinking about small things that happen in your day and analyzing how we react to them.