Every story starts with an idea, big or small.
It can be as simple as “wouldn`t it be fun if…” or it sparks from an experience; a situation you witnessed, a funny object, a great conversation or just from the things you love.
Sometimes it comes to you if you let your mind wander for a bit and you start making new, or original connections in your imagination.
For my former project that is currently on hold, “Janaija”, I had this idea about a computer game coming to life. Born out of my frustration with the way women are portrayed in video games I created my own version of a game heroine, a kind that I would like to see more of. I created a story and a world around that character and the concept of the computer game eventually disappeared. The story evolved and changed, (which is good) but somehow, somewhere, I got stuck.
I see now that I over thought it. I wanted everything to fit together and to make sense in a way that just killed all creativity. I was getting tunnel vision on my ideas.
One day I was watching this video by John Cleese:
I highly recommend you to watch this, since it`s very informative, fun and practical.
Mr. Cleese talks about how you have to set your mind up for being creative. Inspiration can happen, sure, but on a lot of days you need to get out of the “closed mode” we are so often in and give your creativity a helping hand.
I was fed up with feeling so uninspired and stuck and thought I`d give this a go, so I took some time to just let my mind wander. No judging, just making associations and “play.” My mind took this quite literally and I thought of all the stories I made up with my toys and stuffed animals when I was younger. This gave me a starting point to think of new scenario`s and new characters. It was refreshing to come up with something completely new and in my head I quickly had a whole set of characters, a group of friends, the city they live in, a threat that would set them on a journey through their land and I saw what I wanted it to look like. I wasn`t thinking of what others wanted to see, or of what I was capable of, I just played around with ideas.
I saw that I had to let go of Janaija for a while. Doing this is scary if you’ve worked on an idea for so long, but maybe you’ve heard of this expression: “Don’t get married to your ideas.” That’s exactly what happened with Janaija and I can happily report that now that I have let go of it for a while, I am now having new ideas for that comic as well.
When I thought of the ideas for Reminiscence I was also reminded to have fun along the way. I intended to make this a comic full of things I like in terms of style, time period and things to draw. I was greatly looking forward to start it.
Some last things about mindset, which has a lot to do with how you view things.
While I was working on Janaija and while the nagging feeling that it was going nowhere was creeping in, I subconsciously assumed that I had “lost the ability to tell a story.” I started to believe that I couldn’t make comics, especially that I was a bad writer. These kind of thoughts kill creativity. They come from insecurity, and insecurity uses your imagination in ways that won’t get you anywhere.
When I started getting new ideas for Reminiscence I realized that I was still able to come up with stories and that when I feel stuck I’m probably over thinking things and getting tunnel vision again, or something other than that, that has nothing to do with my creativity.
That’s why it’s so important to let go of those thoughts and just “start playing” once in a while, because when you do, your imagination really is the limit.
Question: what are the things you tell yourself when you are being creative? Are these things helpful in your endeavour or not?
Action: watch the video by John Cleese and take some time to play in the “open mode” whether it is for a new idea or an existing one.
Next week: part 2 – collecting your ideas