One of the reasons I love being part of the #WritingCommunity on Twitter is the exchange of ideas. Creatives are kinetic people, and we spark off each other, kindling ideas and drive, igniting purpose and passion.
If you’re a creative, you know what I mean. It’s that electric feeling you get when the ideas are flowing like wine, and you feel a little drunk at how a word or a sentence suddenly becomes a character or a storyline. Before you know it, a random conversation or social media post becomes the project that keeps you up at night. It’s a lot like falling in love.
Although isolation is necessary for art to an extent, art does not exist in a vacuum. Art is about what touches us. Art speaks to the viewer about the interface between life and the person living life. There’s a reason artists had Muses and why, so often, those Muses were real people.
And the #WritingCommunity is a fantastic Muse. Matter of fact, I had one of those experiences yesterday.
@MichaelSpecks (find him here on Twitter) made a post with a lovely piece of art by the talented Qistina Khalidah (link to her breathtaking artwork on Deviant Art). The piece, shown below, is called Love and War.
Michael tweeted this photo with a challenge to come up with a storyline and pitch it in a single tweet that would make him want to read the book. And then, he tagged me. Challenge accepted, dude!
I turned on the creative spigot and the stuff started flowing. The Muse did her usual flighty thing where she holds out a handful of sticks and only one of those sticks has a lollipop on the other end — the rest are just decoys for the good idea. Sometimes, I get the sucker, and sometimes I’m the sucker and end up with nothing. Hey — comes with the territory.
But this time was different. I guess she’s happy with men for finishing the book because within five minutes, I had a story idea. A huge one. Fantasy, dark and epic, warriors and mages, and a macabre tradition that is the only hope of a world slipping into oblivion. It’s the kind of idea that jumps into your head fully formed and, as you work through it, you realize you aren’t creating it as much as you are discovering it.
I didn’t leave a comment on Michael’s tweet, but I did retweet it for others to find. I also took a screen shot of both his tweet and the artwork for my new project journal. His name will be in the acknowledgements for sure!
Where Do you find story ideas?
I get this question a lot, and this example is the best answer I’ve had to offer in a long time.
You get ideas from living and interacting with people, with nature, with art and other artists, with the fullness of being human. You can brainstorm ideas and make it rain — if you want to make a career out of your creativity, training yourself to summon that creative space on command is a necessary skill. But if what you’re talking about is how you find those wildfire ideas, those flashes of inspiration that strike like lightning…
For those, you have to kick off your shoes, get out in the world, and open your arms to the heavens. When one of those ideas chooses you, when it strikes, understand that the reason it is striking is because it is seeking earth. It wants a conduit, someone who can bring it into being and out of the aether.
So, when it happens — and it’s a when, not an if — don’t just stand there. Run with it. Do it up right. Of all the writer lightning rods in the whole wide world, it chose you.
Make it proud.