Monday, March 9, 2009

Ideas and Triggers

One of the most popular topics among writers is: where do you get your ideas? The most often answer is: I get my idea everywhere. I wish I could say that but over the last few years I learn that instead of writing to ideas, I write to triggers.

1) Free Writing * and Visual Images

I do daily free writing to keep the creative mind limber. I write for 10 mins without thinking and stopping. The purpose is to empty my mind for whatever is troubling me. The beginning of the free free writing could be a shopping list, a to-do-list or any personal issues that I have. After a while, the active mind will become settled and I'll begin to "see" images appear in my mind. I follow the images and write them down for whatever time is left out of that 10 mins. Someday, it works and someday I just keep on writing of my to-do-list :)

After the session is finished, I'll transfer the image part to OneNote (a Microsoft note-taking programme). Every couple of weeks, I'll re-read them to see which one pops out to me. That jumping one will become my writing project.

2) Aimless Walking

I enjoy wandering around my suburb. This is similar to free writing, but I'm using the walking motion to settle the active mind and loosen the creative one. Also like free writing, the ideas come to me as visual images. I carry a notebook to jot them down.

3) Questions

Every now and then I ask questions to generate story ideas. They are:

What if?

I reckon I'm that kind of intuitive / instinctive writer-in-practice, who relies on the un/subconscious to do the wool gathering. Free writing is my essential creative tool which acts as a doorway I keep opened diligently to ensure material surface.

How about fellow writers and creatives. Where do you get your ideas for your project?

(This post is inspired by Sophie's comments to my other post.)

(* My free writing is an adaptation / modification of Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Practice". For details, plesae refer to her books titled: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within & Wild Mind: Living a Writer's Life)


Drab said...

thank you for the nice comment :)

i really liked this post. These techniques i feel could be applied to heling me with my illustration. Im going to try the 'Free Writing' one. Obviously instead of writing I will be drawing but the principle i think will be the same.

thanks :)

will let ya know how i get on

sophie said...


I love this topic (in case you hadn't already guessed). I think I'm fairly similar to you; I do the free-writing exercise as well (although it sounds like you're much more disciplined with yourself about it than I am, at least in terms of regular practice). And my ideas come from the strangest places.

I think they come mostly from observation and questioning what I observe. I've started listening to podcasts from ABC Radio's philosophy show 'Big Ideas', and I like to explore different ways of looking at the world through other means as well.

All of which maybe says a lot about the reason that I write. I think I write to try to understand the world, or at least situations (real or fiction) within it. And so my ideas come from the other avenues through which I explore the way other people understand the world. A never-ending cycle, really!

I also love to go for a walk to clear my mind. Something about getting the endorphins running through your veins, and the increase of oxygen to your brain... it really clears the fog for me, and I'll often see something (a story or a life problem) with such clarity.

kate said...

Oh i like this post!
Sometimes I practise the free-writing.... sometimes as in very rarely haha but mostly im a wanderer. I often go for a walk by the river by the house to - and i LOVE the way you put it! hit the nail on the head - settle the active mind and loosen the creative one.
I feel it not so much GIVES me ideas, but it lets me sort through all the stressful everyday things clearly, and give my mind a bit of room to start creating :)

Nice post!! :)

Hybrid J said...

Hey Drab,

Thanks for your comments too and glad that you find FW useful to your illustration. Do let me know how you go with it. Cheers! :)

Hybrid J said...

Hi Sophie,

I was smiling when I read the first line of your post. I did expect you to love the topic, hahaha!

Philosphical investigation of the world is a fantastic way to generate idea, also it gives depth to story writing. (Philosophy has always been one of my main interest and it was also one of my majors at uni.)

I believe that the urge to understand the world is almost like a built-in navigator to all writers and creatives. :)

As of walking, I would rate it as the all-round cure for everything under the sun.

BTW, you should see me last year when I was out of action (writing) for 6 months. So maybe afterall I'm pretending to be very discipline, hahaha!!!

Hybrid J said...

Hi Kate,

Really happy that you like the post. You are right about clearing the mind to allow room for creativity. I should have included that in my post. A lot of the time, our mind is so clouded by our daily activities that it becomes blocked. The wandering is about un-blocking.

P.S. You're so lucky to live by the river! Wish I could do the same. All I have in my suburb is tiny little puddles after rain ... but then it's enough for me to pretend that I'm living near a lake! :)

Hybrid J said...

Hi All (Drab, Sophie & Kate),

This might sound cheesy but I mean it ...

I'm thrilled and happy that my post is of help (even just a tiny little bit) to creative people from various disciplines. I hope that you'll all drop by from time to time to share of your creative experience and journey. I'm sure we can all learn from each other as well as support each other. :)

sophie said...

This is not exactly related to the ideas and triggers post, but I thought you might find this interesting. My uncle sent it to me. He often sends me useful links to bits and pieces about writing. Have a look!

Hybrid J said...

Thanks for the link. Just read the intro part, really good! :)