Real-World Art-ing: The Most Dreaded Creative Question

Sorry, I don’t post on Creative Juicer anymore.

If you like what you see & want more, join my author email list for updates on my writing, posts about sci-fi and fantasy pop culture, and other readerly fun by clicking here.


“Where do you get your ideas?”

It’s one of the most common questions authors, and probably most creatives, are asked.

And it’s a pretty reasonable question. Here you are, a fan who has gone out of their way to attend the reading of an author you admire. This is probably due in large part because you find something about the ideas in that author’s books fresh and intriguing. This person’s creative work spoke to you in some way.

When that happens, it’s special. And everyone wants to sneak a peek behind the curtain and catch a glimpse of what makes the creator’s ideas different.

But if we’re being honest, authors typically hate this question. And I’m already starting to see why.

People love to ask me questions about my book. And ya know, it’s really kind of awkward for me in general. Some of that is because I’ve been writing in mostly in silence for over five years, so now that it’s suddenly Out There it feels somewhat like having your towel ripped away on stage.

But even discounting that factor, talking about where ideas come from is hard. When this is posed as a question, you want to deliver a story on par with Archimedes’ classic “Eureka” moment in the shower. But most of the time, that story just isn’t there. What you really have to share is more like showing how a sausage is made.

For example, the I got my idea for Mud because I was deliberately looking for a story idea. I wanted to deviate from the vampire and werewolves that were so popular at the time. Golems, quite frankly, just seemed fresh and rich in potential. And then I built it bit by bit, point by point, from there. Every day of writing involves a few new ideas to build out from where I already am. Most of it is a matter of necessity and logic.

What it comes down to, really, is perspective. When you don’t work in creativity regularly, or even just from the outside of someone else’s process, a great idea can seem magical. You don’t see all the work and creativity that was put in before the big idea became a book, so it seems like it just came out that way. But most of the time, creative ideas are a process full of slow, persistent effort.

The real magic isn’t the idea—it’s the slow, persistent effort that comes both before the idea and after it.

 


Sorry, I don’t post on Creative Juicer anymore.

If you like what you see & want more, join my author email list for updates on my writing, posts about sci-fi and fantasy pop culture, and other readerly fun by clicking here.

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