All good creative work is, in one way or another, a response to other creative works. They may deviate or follow a certain creative trend, but there will always be a way to position each creative work in the larger body. Take all the -isms we’re familiar with, for instance. Posthumanism is in a way a response to humanist thought. Post-structuralism is a response to structuralism. Postmodernism, though broad and rather difficult to define, is in a way a response to modernism. And so on and so forth. Works of art are reactions to something, derived from individual thought, personal reactions towards something, and the need to position one’s ideas in a larger conversation. But what if it seems as if everything’s been said and done, all stories have been told, all ideas appear to have been pinned down on paper and written or drawn or composed? What then?
That’s where your creative juices come in. Like I said, any piece of creative work is a reaction to something – so think of what’s already been written, and react to it. What did you like about it? What do you think doesn’t work? What could be done better? Take all these questions and try to answer them in your own work, and try to make things fresh and new. All easier said and done, certainly. Be assured that you’ll spend a lot of time, a lot of sleepless nights attempting to make a new creative work that you’d be even just a little satisfied with. It always pays, however, to think outside the box. How can you make familiar things strange? How can you tweak certain everyday situations for you to be able to view them in a new angle, a new perspective? Throw in crazy ideas and make them work. Do anything you need to do to make your brain flow, and initiate brainstorming sessions. Walk around, for example. Or read a lot and write a lot. Engage in free writing, engage in conversation, watch people or animals or events around you, and most of all, think about what makes up these people or these events. Definitely don’t give up trying to be creative — even if it will take you ages to come up with something great.
That said, here are a few quotes that might help inspire you and get you in the creative zone.
- “Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
- “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” – Ray Bradbury
- “Sometimes I think that creativity is a matter of seeing, or stumbling over, unobvious similarities between things – like composing a fresh metaphor, but on a more complex scale.” – David Mitchell
Creativity is risking and being reckless, giving your head some space to be irrational but also making sure you can string all these together. So go ahead – defy expectations and write something people don’t usually see, talk about, or want to talk about. As Sylvia Plath said, “everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Believe you can think out of the box and write something new and fresh — what may come out will surprise you.