Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Creativity: Research your way to inspired writing

Sometimes hitting the books (internet, encyclopedia, local expert) is the best way to galvanize creativity. Immerse yourself in something that interests you. The information may not become useful right away, but then an internal click will sound and that knowledge will have a place.

An unplanned immersion for me has been Alzheimer's and Dementia. My father-in-law and my step-mother are quickly declining as these two age-generated illnesses take over and take from their lives. I wish I didn't have to know how this is effecting these two lovely and important people in my life.  I wish I wasn't learning how it will continue to progress, destroying who they are and who is important to them. I wish I was not aware of how my mother-in-law is trying everything she can to slow the loss of what makes her husband unique, even knowing it is snowballing, just infinitesimally slower than it would have had she not made the effort.  I wish that when I call my mom I don't feel as if some stranger has answered the phone and I am trying to make a good impression. But all this new knowledge is attaching itself to a novel idea which came out of another area of unanticipated knowledge gain.

building creativity
My family is building a house completely by ourselves. And as I write this, my husband is laying Zip System sheeting on the roof rafters.  I have learned about digging a trench for the foundation, setting up concrete forms for that foundation, making everything square, rebar bending and placement, concrete pouring, stem wall bolts, window and door headers, floor and ceiling joists, window framing, and rafter tying. Those are just terms.  But I know how they fit together now, the many different types of nails and screws used, the back-cramping effort of smoothing quickly drying concrete, how to use wall jacks to raise long spans; it is more than I anticipated knowing when I joined my husband's dream of building our own house for our retirement years (still far in the future).  I have become a champion hole digger, perfectly square, and I think holes can actually be described as beautiful; who'd have thought?

What I didn't expect from these two forced gains in knowledge, experience and understanding (we might add torture, but I want to keep this positive) is that the two would link up and inspire me to write a contemporary novel.  I write science fiction, folks!

The moral of this story is use the knowledge you have gained in life and extend it through research, conversation and attention to the details around you. It will inspire you and take you to new areas of creativity and written expression. That's after all what writers are all about, taking today (with all that came before) and turning it into words tomorrow.

What knowledge base has brought inspiration to you and found its way into your writing?  What interest could you pursue greater understanding of and use to provide specificity and inspiration to your writing?


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