Thursday, July 25, 2013

Triggers that shoot ideas: Unleashing the creative impulse

Creative writing techniques, part V

Photo: Hash Milhan / Creative Commons
Very often, writing comes from intuition, the burning desire to write even though you don't know what to say yet. The explosion that originates creativity is a mystery, an impulse that takes place outside the language at that moment when poems and tales are born. It also unleashes a powerful force: the creative impulse.

Before we write and even while writing, we explore memory and reality until we find what we want to say and how to say it. We are moved by an unnamed desire, the pure impulse that compels us. Behind every creative impulse there is a stimulus that acts as a trigger and, before it, there is a whole world to discover and to reveal to others.

The origin of the creative impulse is a mystery, both for a poet and a painter. Ideas can reach everywhere, unexpectedly, and the stimuli that lead us to them aren't always recognizable. However, it's necessary to notice that the stimulus that makes us write is less mysterious and more evident; it often happens when reality hits hard or when we go through a painful event, for example.

Maybe you are now wondering: What happens when life doesn't hit us hard? What if life doesn't give you any reason to look for relief and comfort in writing? Then, some people don't write; they don't need it. But some others mysteriously feel that creative impulse anyway. Where do they find the strength? What is the force that makes them get up in the middle of the night to write? They are receptive people who respond to incentives. They consider that looking for the impulse and paying attention to it to discover its secrets are parts of their job

To understand the impulse as part of the job is essential. Before turning to a blank page, everything is possible if we look out of the window, if we listen to the world outside and we look for things in it. The key is to listen to the impulse, to watch everything that makes it move.

We don't know the origins of the spark, but we know that its light is responsible for making us write hurriedly on a café serviette what the girl at the next table just said:  "I'm sick and tired of living in a pan!" It's responsible for making us stay awake in the middle of the night, scribbling a poem on the notebook we keep next to our bed. It's responsible for making us take a picture with our mobile phone of that young man who is sitting on a bench, whose hand has lost two fingers, and whom we decide to name Jeremiah. It's responsible for making us want to write a horror story after we have finished reading about another topic.

Tales, novels, and poems are born from a first impulse that, instead of disappearing like others, know how to root in our sensitivity until they possess our will and look for shape and sense.

Not everything we scribble on a serviette will become a successful story. It can be either hours or weeks until we see good words appear on the page. We can leave ideas in stand-by for months or years as drafts stacked and forgotten in a drawer.

That's the creative technique that I'm bringing to you today: the creation of a file of first impulses.

Starting today, you will write down every spark, everything that catches your attention. You are looking for an address on Google Maps and you notice the plan of the streets that run parallel, so close yet condemned to never meet. Write it down! Pay attention to sensorial incentives: sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing... A musician can see music in the sound of frying bacon, in the sound of an old typewriter. Those are sounds that trigger ideas.

Look! What do you see? Look at the shadow of your friend on the restaurant's wall while you talk. So similar to Peter Pan's naughty shadow. And go on like that! Never stop!

Copyright © 2013 Cinta García de la Rosa
This post originally appeared on Cinta's Corner.

Cinta García is a Spanish writer, blogger, reviewer, proofreader, editor, and translator who loves the written word. Her biggest dream was to become a published writer, since one of her passions is writing short stories. And she got that dream when she published The Funny Adventures of Little Nani, her debut collection of stories for children and kids at heart.  She recently published a short story for an adult audience, A Foreigner in London, on Smashwords. Enjoy her ramblings in her blog, Cinta's Corner, and her book reviews at I Can't Stop Reading.

Follow Cinta on Twitter: @CintaGarciaRosa


  1. Brilliant insights again, Cinta! Thanks for your contribution! Love your blogs! I'm going to promote them now on FB --all the way from Germany! Cheers, Siggy

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