Collection and Contemplation
For me, creativity comes from two places, from stimulation and from stillness, and from the tension between the two.
First comes the collection. The brain must be fed, there must be material to draw from, both in my area and outside it. I’m a fiber artist and a writer and a scientist, and I can find ideas anywhere and everywhere. I read books in my genre and out, on topics I love and on topics I’m completely unfamiliar with. There’s always something new to learn, and everything feeds into my art in some way. For a while I had a rule that I couldn’t leave the library without a book by an author new to me or on a topic I didn’t know anything about. I still try to do that, but I’m not as consistent.
Talk to people, both online and in person. Find people who do what you do, so that you can share experiences, and find people who do something entirely different, but do it intelligently and enthusiastically. Develop a diverse group of friends, but seek out people who are creative and motivated and do things, because that will motivate you to do things too. Take classes, go to writer’s groups, interact and experience.
A creative person needs tools. Not things so much, but skills. Learning and practicing new skills, whether discovering a different way to tell a story or developing a greater facility with dye mixing, allows for a greater range of expression of your own ideas. Learn from other people, writers, artists, learn their skills and make them your own. I don’t mean just copy, but study what others do, and practice, and think about how to bring them into your work, or not.
Then stop. Take the time to digest what you’ve heard and learned and read and seen, to let the buzzing parts of your brain quiet so that the deeper parts can make themselves known. For me the best ways to do that are to go for a walk or take a shower, things that keep the body and the surface brain busy, but don’t allow much in the way of external mental input. Turn off the tv, shut off the internet, let your own ideas and insights have priority. Use the well-filled depths of your brain, to make new things, to meld the ideas and insights you’ve acquired into something that is uniquely your own.