Creativity sneaks up on you when you least expect it. It’ll happen when you’re looking at the most mundane item, like a pile of mashed potatoes. You’ll start with scooping out the middle to make a hole to pour in the gravy. You’ll fill in that hole and watch as it overflows with lumpy brown gravy. You’ll imagine the hundreds or corn citizens that will be marched up that gravy volcano to sacrifice themselves to the potato gods. You’ll start to ask yourself questions like “I wonder who the are?” and “I wonder what they would do it this was really happening to them?”
As a writer, you can’t be afraid to allow your mind to wander into places where others fear to tread. You can’t be afraid to ask questions others would be scared or embarrassed to ask. You need to be the one to ask “What if” and to allow your mind to fill in the answer for you. Once you’ve allowed your mind to be open to new possibilities it will take you anywhere you can dream.
Let’s go back to those potatoes for a minute. What happens when you start to eat them? Those lumps in the potatoes, what are those? And the lumps in the gravy? If you’re a god eating a volcano, why are you eating that volcano? Are you seeking revenge on someone who wronged you or are you just a bored god that feels the need to punish his corn subjects?
Perhaps it’s not even your plate of food that draws in your attention, but as you’re lying on the couch just starting at the ceiling tiles, or that popcorn stuff. You start by counting them, but soon your eyes go in and out of focus. You’ll see shapes appear and you’ll imagine those shapes starting a war on your ceiling. Who is on which side? Which side is good and which is bad? Why is one side good and one side bad? You’re staring at a white ceiling, fill in the colors. What does the banner or flag for each side look like? How many are on either side. What sort of weapons do they have? Are they even human or something completely different?
For me, creativity is what happens inside my brain when I’m not thinking about it. It’s allowing my mind to just wander and ask questions of where it’s going or where it’s been. Writing isn’t about creativity, it’s about demanding answers from your brain as to where it’s been and then giving the characters found there a life to live beyond your imagination.
Take some time to let your eyes go out of focus while staring at your plate of food, your ceiling, the pattern on that painting, the stitching in your favorite shirt, that pile of rocks, that stand of trees. Don’t allow your brain to limit where you can draw creativity from and it’ll sneak up on you when you least expect it. You’ll be happy it did.