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Every week, when I sit down to write my post for the Daily Post, there is one question that always sticks in my mind: where do our ideas come from? While I do not believe in mystifying creativity, it is a unique aspect of the human experience. Why are we compelled to write? And why are we compelled to write about X topic in particular? That’s why I was excited when I came across this interesting talk from John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) on the creative process:

Precisely what I like about Cleese’s talk on creativity is that it makes me think about everything I disagree with. To me, the idea that we need to be isolated to be creative is antiquated and puts creativity in the hands of those with the luxury to spend extensive amounts of time ruminating on life. Being “in the zone,” collaborating with others, seeking criticism, and feeling distracted are all part and parcel of the creative process. Everything we do is sensory input that can later affect our writing and all that we produce.

In my last post, many of you said that you found inspiration from both online resources and from small moments in your daily lives. For me, I find that modern “distractions” are a great resource for new ideas and information that I may not have stumbled across otherwise, but when the time comes for me to actually create, I need to be alone so I can feel completely uninhibited. That said, I also know that my desire to “go, go, go” all of the time is what pushes me to write, to produce, and to criticize the end result.

What’s your process like? Do you agree with Cleese that creativity requires being uninterrupted and solitary? Or do you thrive on hustle and bustle?

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  1. Today I got inspired by my work/ my surroundings. Though I do work alone most of the times! http://mzke.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/its-melting/

    My creative thoughts usually spring from other things I’m working on. I only just started blogging, but working on my first post I got an idea for the next, and from that post I got another idea to work on.
    I’m also thinking about joining the weekly photo challenge. Working with a set subject often helps me create original things as well.

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  2. I prefer distractions. They tend to strike such ‘out of the box’ ideas that help readers connect to your writing. If I could I would sit with my laptop at a nightclub and divide my time between the dance floor, my booze, and the keyboard.

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  3. We all need boundaries when we want to produce something that had any worth. Yes, we can get ideas from the situations that go on around us, but those are only ideas. We have to actually sit down and let those ideas take their course to get a finished product. An I’ve found that when you discipline yourself as to when you will write, it then becomes easier because your mind will get used to being used in that way at that time.

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  4. I need solitude and complete quiet to write – to transfer creativity from brain to paper (or computer screen). If my hubby has the TV on in the next room I wear ear-defenders! If I’m writing fantasy then in my mind I have to be in that place I’m writing about. No distractions – not even music. If I’m writing something factual then I need to concentrate on those facts. I can’t multi-task and tend to be single-minded and totally focused on whatever I’m doing. For me creative writing is born from experiences and observations from real-life situations. I need to be out in the world to gather information, but shut away to regurgitate it. I think it’s also a lot to do with personality.

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  5. When I brainstorm for writing topics, particularly for my blog, I often reflect on life lessons and what I’ve learned in the past week. What challenges did I overcome or mistakes did I make that others can learn from? These have proven to be the topics I’m most passionate about.

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  6. I find inspiration and ideas when i am out and about – either in the physical world around me, or on the internet. but when i have a big project to complete and put order to, when there is a need or concentrated effort, and order then being along works best. having said that i have been known to put the sound cancelling headphones on and work on a noise crowded cross continent flight.

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  7. Accidental connections, mistakes, arguments, chaos, a deep feeling of despair at how things are not working – all of these I have discerned are part of the process.

    The lack of structure is part of the structure 😉

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  8. I’m bordering on being paranoid now 😛 I might be missing the whole idea of this post; All that’s stuck in my head right now is, “Am I a terrible writer who does not have the skills required to recognize that I am a terrible writer?!”

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  9. The ideas can come any time, any place. When I sit down wih fingers on keyboard, I usually block whatever is around me – I hear nothing but the words in my brain. Quite often, the urge to blog hits and I sit and let the words come as they wish.

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  10. I’m a newbie to the blogging world (post 11 goes up today). I am inspired by what I love (decorating) which means I am always looking at my surroundings, taking mental notes, looking at everything I can online. But because the process is still so new to me I spend more time pushing through the insecurities of being able to communicate any thought with clarity or purpose than contemplating where the creativity actually comes from.

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  11. I don’t think there is any rhyme and reason to creativity. I agree with Carol (above) because I can open up my laptop and write in a croweded gymnasium waiting for a wrestling match to start. I used to think I needed to wait for the planets to align, the house to be quiet or for the Perfect idea to hit. (Many of my thoughts back then never made it to paper!) I am reformed. I now write from notes jotted on a scrap of paper…

    The ideas? Can come from quiet time walking on the beach and reflecting. Or by being out there, going about my daily activities. Such as last night, when I ran to Wal-Mart. I went home and blogged about all the men running into the store last minute:

    http://playingwithperfect.com/2012/02/13/the-night-before-valentines-day-at-wal-mart/

    I write because I HAVE to write. NOT writing isn’t an option. Writing is my way of connecting with others and sharing the human experience.

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  12. My creative process differs. I write from exps of mine or close friends. Most times, material comes to me and like water, the words begin to pour out. I guess for me it depends on my mood reg needing a quiet space. Great post and thanks for sharing!

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  13. Hustle and bustle. I live in the city and the range of ideas that come to me as I walk from subway to work and more is far greater then when I am distraction free. From homeless people, to crazy life situations, to chaos all of life is happening. That being said I also find the shower a place where ideas come…! Problem is you can’t write them down right away and so sometimes lose them down the metaphoric drain….

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    1. Shower. So true. So funny. That’s where I get my best ideas. The drain? I know. Right! There must be tons of creativity in the sewer system. Lol

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  14. Being in a constant daydream state during any hustle/bustle leads to new ideas for me. Paying attention to the din just stresses me. Being entirely quiet/alone is just relaxing, not often inspirational, although it’s the best time to produce. Great post! 🙂

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  15. Having defined problems to solve drives creativity for some. So from this perspective being in isolation doesn’t really help the creative process. But once there is a key issue that needs solving, wiping away distraction is definitely helpful. Of course we all have our special type of muse and need to find our own way of being and creating.

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  16. HA! ! I should be so lucky as to have “uninterrupted time” to write! As a SAHM of 4, two under the age of 8…my writing time must encompass noise, interruptions, snack time, barking dogs- in short, life.

    nilla

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  17. I write alone but my creativity comes from years of experiences. Sometimes something in life at present will spark what I am writing but the writing itself is coming from having experienced it normally. I am not a busy busy person…have one son that way lol. I believe in breathing in life, obsorbing it, smelling it, tasting it, and letting it flow out my fingers.

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  18. I’d love to have peace and quiet, but in a small house with 4 children and a husband? Peace and quiet is available at about 5am only, a time I like to be asleep.

    So I write in the hustle and bustle of family life.

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  19. Creativity, such a fascinating subject! I used to worry that if I didn’t write down all my “brilliant” ideas immediately, I would forget them. But I’ve found that if an idea is really worth pursuing, it sticks, and it’s best if I let it simmer until it’s absolutely bubbling over and the words come pouring out of my pen faster than I can write. At that point, it doesn’t matter where I am or what’s happening around me. Of course this hasn’t stopped me from writing down things as they come to me. I’ve fallen in love with Jonah Leher’s books. He uses real life examples and studies performed by neuroscientists, and has beautiful insight into how our mind’s work. I’ve pre-ordered his newest book on this very subject called, “Imagine; How Creativity Works.” Cannot wait until March!!!

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  20. To write, I need the quiet of my thoughts and surroundings. But to find inspiration, one cannot truely be isolated. Inspiration comes from what we read, what others communicate and the events that happen in our lives. Thus I find myself seeking out a combination of isolation for uninterrupted time in which to write down my ideas; and intergration in the hurly burly of daily life.

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  21. I do not “thrive on hustle and bustle,” but many of my ideas certainly come from the unusual as well as the commonplace happenings of life. Mostly though, they come through struggle. Much of what I write about is based on a a struggle I went or am going through. I do need uninterrupted and solitary, but I also need connection. I need the contrast to be creative and to appreciate what each of them does for me.

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  22. Don’t think it is either or. Some people need quick, others a go, go, go existence. I am a go-go type of person, can’t sit still. But I have found my dreams, sleeping on a block, works best for me when it comes to expanding my idea. .

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  23. I find my ideas coalesce when I am either taking a bath or shower enjoying the hot water or when I am hiking the mile home through the woods to our house that is off the grid. The go-go energy of town creates the spark for my imagination. Then the solitude found in my walking meditation when there is nothing else to do allows that spark to grow. So many times I have wished for the ability to sit down in the middle of the woods and pull out my notebook, but the descending light as evening approaches dissuades me from delaying my arrival home.

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  24. Just like a pebble needs to be thrown to stir up a pond that is absolutely still, so is it with us bloggers.We do need some stimulation or as you put it ‘distraction’ to get started.Once we get all the inputs then, we need a minute to put all the thoughts in the correct sequence. Then with a flourish we start typing. Have to agree with you on all points.

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