3 Launch Pads from Which You Can Blast Off Creative Ideas

“In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.” —Eric Liddell

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you used the same launch pad, the same source, for your creative ideas? Has the distance your ideas have soared become shorter?

Then it’s time you try a different launch pad or improve the one you’re using. Here are 3 launch pads your creative ideas can blast off from.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Launch Pad 1. Your Experiences

This is probably the easiest and most popular launch pad. But in our Financial Peace University class, Dave Ramsey made a poignant point about our experience with money. With credit, debit, and ATM cards, we no longer feel the pain of shelling out money as we do when we count out dollar bills and coins. Instead, the pain comes when a check bounces or we realize we lack rent money.

Possibly, we need to revamp our “experience” launch pad. The experience of attending that class alerted me to how some of life’s improvements have desensitized me. I want to seek new experiences that allow myself to feel all the wonderful emotions God gave me.

My creativity thrives from those experiences in which I feel wonder, surprise, sadness, empathy, pain, awe, joy, my funny bone, etc.

Image courtesy of James Barker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of James Barker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Launch Pad 2. Your Research

For us who see research as work, we may forfeit some great ideas if we avoid it. I’m often surprised when I’m reading a book or article and an idea pops up for a project. Or while I’m researching the Internet for my novel, I’m delighted when something grabs me and an idea forms for another activity.

I learned how amazing research could be when I attended an American Christian Fiction Writers Conference when Francine Rivers was the keynote speaker.

Earlier on a cruise in the Mediterranean, I happened to be reading Francine Rivers’s A Voice in the Wind. The ship stopped in places the Apostle Paul visited: Rome, Corinth,  Athens, and Ephesus. I was stunned how Rivers brought alive Rome and Ephesus, whose streets we walked.

At the conference, I said to her, “You must’ve had the same tour guide we had in Ephesus, because you captured what he related in your novel.” She answered, “I’ve never been to Ephesus.”

This experience launched my great respect for research and how it can give me ideas for scenes in novels.

Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Launch Pad 3. Others’ Experiences. 

This could come in the form of eavesdropping, an email loop, biographies, famous quotes, friends and family.

After I watched the movie, Chariots of Fire, I watched an interview on the DVD about Eric Liddell. He was the 1924 Olympic medalist runner who refused to run heats on Sunday. Elderly people, who’d been youths imprisoned in the same Japanese interment camp as Liddell, related Liddell’s selfless service. His example for youth as a runner and missionary touched me.

This birthed the idea for my hero in the romance I’m working on. My hero also saw the movie when he was young and his dream is to be the Eric Liddell of golf. Giving the youth of today a role model.

If you’re running dry for ideas from your favorite launch pad, try increasing your exposure in another.

Do you have another launch pad for creative ideas? How have you used it?

You Can Get Creative and Never Grow Old

“Have nothing to do with growing old—but fall in love with growing older.” — J. Ellsworth Kalas

Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you growing older? According to J. Ellsworth Kalas, in his book, I Love Growing Older but I’ll Never Grow Old, this is far from a duh-yes question. Kalas says, “Older is a journey. Old is a destination.” Whereas Kalas’s destination is heaven, for others it might be sourness.

What I address today is how we can get creative to stay on life’s journey and never stop at the destination called bitterness. I’ll give examples to get your creative juices flowing.

mage courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
mage courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A person who is “growing older” learns new things.

  • Take a writing or art class and write and illustrate stories for your grandchildren in which they are the main characters.
  • Join a scrapbooking group and learn how to create beautiful albums for each of your children. Go through your boxes of stored photos and select the best. Then pitch the rest so your children don’t have to do that job after you’re gone.
  • Learn to play the guitar or keyboard and visit nursing homes and prisons with your church or other groups and share age-appropriate music.
Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A person who is “growing older” develops relationships.

  • Build a friendship with someone who’s older than you.
    • A homebound person. Be consistent in your visit schedule. Bring tea and cookies, read a book together, assemble a 300 large-piece jigsaw puzzle, listen to her stories.
    • A mentor. Look for an expert to teach you a “dying” art: canning, gardening, knitting, tatting lace, woodworking, sewing.
    • An Octogenarian. Record her stories. Start a historical blog and share real life stories.
  • Grow a friendship with someone who’s younger than you.
    • A child without a parent or grandparents. Create a road and businesses and play cars (have a police car for those speeders), play restaurant with plastic food (take turns being a server, a cook, and a patron).
    • Join interest groups attended by people of a wide range of ages. Writers groups, book clubs, a church choir.
  • Schedule “date night” with your spouse whether you have children in your home or not. Try something new. Dancing lessons, a sport, dinner with friends in a different nationality restaurant each week, geocaching.

 

mage courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
mage courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A person who is “growing older” helps others.

  • Use your expertizes from your still active or retired career to help others. Help with someone’s taxes, show a novice how to plant a garden, change the oil in a widow’s car, give an art lesson, tutor a student, pray for others.
  • Volunteer in something new to you. In a food pantry, at the voting poles, as a chaperone for a teen mission trip, teaching Sunday school or Vacation Bible School, at Habitat for Humanity, driving people to doctor appointments or the grocery store.
  • Write a blog sharing information you’ve learned. How to: write fiction, research genealogy, make the best deviled eggs, travel across the country in an RV.

Get involved in learning, building relationships, and helping others. You’ll grow older in a wonderful life journey.

What are activities you do to grow older gracefully in your journey?

Brainstorming: Make Your Worst Idea the Most Unique Solution

“What is art but a way of seeing.” — Thomas Berger

Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We know most of the standard suggestions for brainstorming, such as no analyzing, no judging, and no discussion. But if we look closely at our brainstorming exercise we may notice the ideas often fall into an invisible box. We’re bound tightly by the question we’re trying to answer and unconsciously discard words.

That’s good to an extent, but let’s see what delightful idea might arise if we list all the words that pop into our heads. Then consider the one we rank lowest. I’ll show this by giving an example for writing a romantic short story. Couple holding hands.

The question: What could the hero and heroine be at odds over that is not based on a misunderstanding.

Step 1. Brainstorm twelve or so ideas. Follow the standard rules, but if a word comes into your head and it seems like a random word, write it down.

Step 2. List the ideas, starting with the ones you think would work best to the worst.

Here’s my twelve for the main source of conflict between the hero and heroine:

  1. The use of a piece of land
  2. One is going to take over the other’s business
  3. A competition in which they’re on opposite teams

    A Competition
    A Competition
  4. They both want to buy the same exotic item for their art stores
  5. An inheritance
  6. They’re in different armed services
  7. Child rearing methods
  8. Hunting for sport
  9. Religion
  10. Capital punishment
  11. Teeth care
  12. Eggs
Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Notice 1 through 5 are common ideas that have worked. Idea 6 could work well, but 7 through 10 are so controversial they may not do well in a romance. Ideas 11 and 12 are the two that popped into my head that I would never have bothered to write down in past brainstorming sessions. Idea 12 is outside the invisible box. Ridiculous.

Step 3. But let’s go with the worst idea. Eggs.

Step 4. Now, forget the question and brainstorm what ever comes to mind about eggs.

???????????

  1. Egghead
  2. Faberge eggs
  3. Easter eggs
  4. Egg inspections
  5. Rare bird eggs
  6. Egging (as in egging a house)
  7. Human eggs
  8. Brown vs. White eggs
  9. Eggs and cholesterol
  10. Fish eggs
  11. Egg shape

I could come up with some story conflicts for several of the ideas, and most would’ve been unique conflicts. But what intrigued me involved a female author writing military thrillers and the man assigned to design the cover of her book.

The heroine wants to set the title inside an egg shape, because the main character is Major Eggleston. The hero insists the title should be set in an explosive star shape, a rectangle, or nothing. She argues the significant romantic element in the story suggests many women would enjoy the book. The cover needs to be softened. He counters she should stick to her primary audience: men who like military thrillers.

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I can see the conflict ramping up when he pulls rank because the book contract states the publisher will determine the cover. She changes tactics, pretending to be romantically interested in him. He doesn’t fall for her role-play, but he realizes he’s falling for her. And on it goes.

That was fun. Try it.

What low-ranking idea did you come up with while brainstorming, and how could you use it?