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The Art-Writing Cycle of Inspiration

Creative inspiration takes many forms. Sometimes it comes in a flash: the classic light-bulb moment. Other times it seems to come in waves, tugging at our feet as we slosh along through the surf. Sometimes we feel inspired by a walk through budding trees, or by rusty old tools splayed out on a bench, or perhaps by the sound of a familiar melody we haven't heard since we were young.


The kind of inspiration I'm thinking about today can be found in the natural ebb and flow of the creative cycle. In fact, I suspect that this beautiful, sneaky little bugger likes to hide in the lowest part of the ebb, playfully waiting to be caught. Just when I feel like I'm running out of steam, and maybe, mayyybeee feeling a teensy bit stuck on a writing project, I see it glimmer, and I pounce.


It's... drum roll please... doing something else creative! Draw, paint, build something, dance, write a song, play an instrument. Now, I'm not saying I abandon my project and all the work routines I've built. I just find that sometimes, instead of banging my head against the wall, a brief change of creative scenery works wonders. (Unless I need a longer or more complete creative rest, which is a topic for another day!)


My biggest sources of writing inspiration have been meditation, travel (I'm talking local gardens, museums, anywhere new, not necessarily Big Fancy Trips), and art. Specifically when I'm feeling stuck on my writing, I tend to turn to drawing and painting. And during the creative process I've found that the writing-art-writing cycle makes a beautiful feedback loop.


For example: for the past two years I've been working on a middle grade fantasy series. After I wrote out some notes and a few scenes, my writing petered out and I found myself trying to picture the kingdom, to imagine physically where the main character's journey would take her. I need a map! I thought. So I started off with some pretty rough sketches.


first map of the kingdom sketch
See, wasn't kidding, pretty rough!

Those map sketches inspired more scenes. After I had written those scenes, I started to wonder about what the characters were wearing, and how they would move around their village. So I sketched the main characters and their houses, which inspired more detail in my writing.


character sketches
Character sketches with unintended 'the Shining' vibes

And so on and so forth, until I ended up with a full watercolor map of the kingdom and a completed manuscript (which I'll be submitting to agents soon, please wish me luck)!



Why am I telling you all this? Switching creative gears has been a source of inspiration for me, and I'm curious to hear what others do. I'm no expert. I just love the creative process and thinking and wondering. I don't have any art installments or even published books (yet!). Though you can find some of my technical writing published in this illuminating transportation report. In hindsight, I used the writing-art cycle in engineering too - I loved to sketch out graphs and maps during the report planning process.


So, what does your creative cycle look like? Do you find yourself switching creative modes for inspiration? Drop me a line below!





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