Creative Writing begins with ideas but where do these come from? How can you remember the ideas that pass through your mind? Ideas are the raw materials for your work and so it is important to be able to catch and collect them. Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron and Oriah Mountain Dreamer have all written inspirational books on this subject.
Carry A Notebook
The poet, Oriah Mountain Dreamer suggests that ideas and images are actually all around us. She explains that, if we pay more attention to our lives, then we will find plenty of ideas for our writing. In her book What We Ache For she suggests that, if you want to gather ideas, then carry a small notebook with you at all times. She encourages you to make a note about anything that catches your attention, such as the way light shines on a pond, or the funny remark that your mother made on the phone. She also believes that carrying a notebook is the best way to record and remember any lines of poetry that drift through your head. Perhaps you could also keep a note of your dreams.
Julia Cameron suggests that you need to ‘arrive at the page’ at a regular time every morning. She encourages you to use a tool called ‘The Morning Pages’. This means that you write for a set period of time, every morning, and fill three pages with whatever comes to mind. She encourages you to record any worries, thoughts and feelings. The pages are designed to empty your mind of chatter and debris so that other ideas can fill that space. Cameron claims that, during her morning writing sessions, characters and scenes from novels started to arise. The discipline of having to write every morning, no matter how you feel, helps you to gather together a large collection of thoughts and ideas.
Take A Walk
Cameron’s book Walking In This World also suggests that setting aside time for a regular walk can help provide new perspectives and inspirations for your writing. Cameron thinks that taking a walk, each week, encourages you to look at problems in new ways and to become open to fresh ideas. She thinks that the habit of walking brings people into the ‘realm of larger thoughts and ideas well known to shamans and spiritual seekers’.
In her book Wild Mind Natalie Goldberg also mentions the benefits of a regular writing practice. She encourages you to pick a theme or topic and to write about it, without stopping, for a set period of time. She provides many interesting themes, for this activity, in her book.
Goldberg suggests that you could go to a cafe or place of interest and simply start your practice by recording what you see around you. At other times you may wish to write about your thoughts or memories. Golberg, like Oriah Mountain Dreamer, states that you must ‘keep your hand moving’ when you are writing down ideas. If you keep stopping and starting then the flow of words may be lost. Remember that you are only gathering raw material at this stage.
If you carry a notebook and encourage yourself to write at a set time every day then you will find it easy to gather a large collection of ideas and images for creative writing. Oriah Mountain Dreamer writes that you should not discard anything because ideas from yesterday may be used for future projects.