In terms of new ideas and working projects, artists experience both green pastures, flowing with milk and honey and vast desert landscapes, dry as far as the eye can see. When the former prevails, a great peace envelopes the mind of the artist as he or she works through the ideas that lead to the generation of new work. Artists describe this period of time like a new relationship, full of exciting possibilities, hope, pleasure, and new discoveries. The process of working through this new body of work will naturally spawn new ideas and ways of seeing. The results are often far removed from the original ideas.
When the later, less desirable, of the two options arises, a feeling of loss and uncertainty will inevitably occur. What happens when we run out of ideas? How do we deal with these times of despair?
First and foremost, it is important to keep a journal of ideas. Get into the habit of carrying a journal with you at all times. However, it is whatyou write in your journal that makes the difference. During those prolific times, when ideas are flowing like an open faucet, you should be jotting down notes about the new discoveries and ideas as they come to you. Even if the notes are unrelated to a current project, write them down under “new work,” or another title that makes sense to you. Later, upon the completion of your current project, you will be able to refer back to the notes you have made, then proceed to start the process all over again as you begin working on the new projects that arise from the pages of your journal.
However, there may still come a time when ideas are hard to come by and you begin to feel the despair that comes with the lack of new material. Take heed, the following observations will render new ideas and spawn creativity.
Top of Mind
In an effort to engage your mind in the process of coming up with new ideas and solving problems, you need to keep the topic at hand top of mind. Have you ever noticed that great moments of brilliance often come just as you fall asleep? The reason for this has to do with your state of mind as your begin to drift off. During this time you are less inhibited by doubt and uncertainty, leaving you free to think outside of your own distractions. The information you “load” your mind with prior to going to bed has the ability to shape, not only that moment of brilliance as you begin to fall asleep, but also the dreams you have that evening.
Just before going to bed, spend some time this evening reading up on some of the topics that interest you. Topics like bird migration patterns vs. human migration patterns, Physiognomy/Prenology, or something else. Do this for the next several nights until you feel satisfied with the results. Be sure to set your journal on your nightstand so that when your ideas start to flow you have a place to jot them down.
Thinking Beyond Yourself
How many times have you come up with an idea and in the very next moment you have already convinced yourself that you can not and should not carry it through? All too often, we, as artists, come up with ideas and solutions that we think are too obvious or too easy. We proceed to over-think our ideas and in the process begin to doubt whether we are capable of completing the task or of even coming up with original work.
All great work has a starting place. Let your starting place be freedom of thought. If you let your doubts be the end of your ideas then you are never going to reach the highlight of completing great work or moments of new discovery.
Reading is an important element in teaching your mind to think. This act will also aid in the discovery of new ideas, especially if the books you read pertain to subjects you have an interest in. When coupled with the aforementioned “Top of Mind” technique you are bound to come up with ideas for new work and solutions to new projects. You can become very knowledgeable about a subject by reading just three quality books about the topic? Consider the reading as research for new ideas.
These techniques are useful and have provided me pages of notes and new discovers. Consider practicing them yourself until they become habits. Then post the outcomes her as new work in progress. I can’t wait to see what transpires.
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