As a writer and musician, I need ideas to create original writing and music. I search for ideas that ignite the creative process. Other times I am blessed when ideas materialize as a result of my creative work.
I grew up north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prairie stretched beyond the farm lane west of our home. Dad joked that we could see Iowa on a clear day. On some overcast days, however, he shouted, “Hey kids, there’s a storm brewing!” In response, we’d run to the lane to watch clouds gather. Muffled thunder usually preceded lighting, as if to announce the weather’s approach. Then light would follow sound. At the peak of the storm, lighting and thunder were simultaneous events.
In June 2015, I posted an essay, Three Steps for Creative Thinking. I defined creativity as a process, which begins with vision. Composition of our work is second. Production completes the process. We logically think that ideas initiate creativity just as lighting produces thunder. And, just as lighting brightens the sky, we trust that ideas illuminate our vision.
Steven Pressfield in War of Art and Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic describe how ideas exist before we discover and apply these concepts to our work. The authors suggest that the next great novel or work of art has already been composed within us. Our job is to capture these distant buried ideas and make them our own.
John Dufresne in The Lie That Tells a Truth maintains that inspiration begins when writers write, not before we pick up our pen. When I want to write song lyrics, for example, I start with music. Music originates in our heart and body, the source of feelings and emotions, which assist in the creative process. When I begin with music–– composition, chords, melody, and rhythm become the idea for lyrics. Music then composes the lyrics. I use music to reach distant ideas within me.
Nancy Andreasen in Secrets of the Creative Brain speculates that Newton’s idea of gravity did not occur when an apple fell from a tree and hit him on his head. The source for his idea, rather, resulted from twenty years of prior study and living with his vision about the universe.
Similar to Newton, we may not have our discovery moment until years after we live with our vision. At this point we are hit on the head and our idea seems to be a simultaneous flash of insight and explosion of action similar to the peak of a storm. At this point we understand that our idea was composed as a result of our vision instead of a flash of inspiration.
Graham Wallas in The Art of Thought describes the moment of understanding when the apple hits our head as the point between our sub conscious and consciousness when we have a hint of an idea. When we develop our self-awareness to recognize hints from our subconscious we are then able to take action to move our hunches into words to manifest our vision.
In March 2016, I posted an essay, Change Point of View for Creative Vision. The article describes how to access our non-verbal brain that is the origin of our hunches. To reach this non-linguistic place, we move our location to change our perspective. With a new perspective we gain an illuminated perception when we run out of doors to watch the gathering storm.
Return to our thunderstorm. Think of the storm as manifestation of our vision and hunches, which preceded the storm. Weather comes on slowly, as it announces a change of what is to come. We feel the hint of an idea in the air before we know what will happen. Some of us feel the idea in our bones. At the peak of the storm, illumination of our vision that preceded the storm is transformed into an idea for action. Our idea is composed as a result of the storm. We take the necessary next steps to complete the creative process to produce our desired outcome.
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Life Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
Richard Wilberg is a creativity coach, musician, photographer, and former business leader who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.