One experiment I saw on creativity is to show someone a brick and ask them to come up with as many uses for it as they can. A simple object like a brick, when it’s exposed to ideas, life experience and knowledge a person already has, can produce many different ideas. Taking an everyday object and thinking how else it could be used or adapted can bring to mind a whole set of new ideas. Reading a story and asking what would happen if this character’s personality was different in that particular situation? How would they react differently? how would this can the situation? Doing something like this could inspire another story.
I’m sure Austin Kleon is right when he says nothing is completely original. There are only so many plots that can be used in a story, but the way they are combined, and the details the author adds is what makes the end story original. It isn’t only in things like writing that we see this process. Technology and science often builds on the discovery and invention of those who go before. Often by combining ideas from one field to another. It is interesting to see how multi-disciplinary teams are now working together produce new things.
We create from our life experiences, our education, our own unique perspective on life. I believe being creative is a very human thing. We all do it even thought not everyone realizes they are doing it. Creativity isn’t limited to the arts, it is found in every field of human endeavour.
I love the process of creating. I sometimes write songs. I start by just playing around with notes in my head and creating patterns until something interesting turns up, then I’ll develop it. The strange thing is, it sometimes seems that what comes out of this process comes from nowhere. I know this isn’t true. I was bought up in the west and have heard western music all of my life; classical music, rock, pop, jazz and even more modern styles of music that I don’t necessary like all influence what I write. Often this is subconscious.
We do not live in a vacuum, it is therefore impossible to create anything completely unique. The challenge is to take what is already there and use that material to construct things in a way that looks and feels fresh and new.