the creative juices

how do you get the creative juices flowing?

everyone has a different method for the madness. Ernest Hemingway once said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” but that may not be for everyone.

the problem lies (lays? lyes? lose? my mom would know) in that it is difficult, if not impossible, to be creative when trying to be creative.

my dullest (or maybe most hackneyed) story ideas have come, for example, after watching/reading something truly original. i get all fired up by how creative the story-telling was and say, “hell, i can do that!” then i go home, sit down at the laptop, and write some lousy shit that borrows all of its good moments (if there are any) from the real creativity i just witnessed.

but when i’m not even trying to be creative, when i’m just relaxed and not thinking too hard, that’s when i feel like i come up with my best stuff.

in other words, i’m not too much of a planner. one of my writer friends is super-detailed in his process. he fills up notebooks with information that may not even make it into his writing. and though to some degree i will plan out characters, scenarios, information i want to be sure to include, it’s not that much. i’d rather “let it happen” on its own, but that may mean never.

i think the film American Graffiti is a great example. for those who don’t know before watching it, it’s a bit of a shock to learn that it was written and directed by George Lucas. what? the creator of all things Star Wars and that ilk? made a low-budget, coming-of-age, character-driven comedy? and it actually has GOOD dialogue? it sounds like a lie.

but even if you know this about Lucas and Graffiti, what you might not know is that the whole movie was actually the result of a dare/bet. Lucas was known in film school for creating weird, serious sci-fis and some of his buddies bet him, “George, we bet you can’t make a lighthearted comedy.” and he took them up on it. and the rest was history.

now, Lucas will never be remembered for Graffiti, since it didn’t spawn unending sequels/spinoffs/merchandising the way he will be remembered for Star Wars. but it’s interesting how creative the movie actually is given that the substance itself seems kind of dull. the synopsis to the movie doesn’t sound interesting at all: “A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.” (from IMDB) but Lucas, inspired by a dare/bet, makes what i think it arguably one of the best-written films of the past half century.

so i guess it goes to prove that inspiration can come from anywhere. you never know – hit your head on a toilet and you might figure out how to make time travel possible.


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