We writers live among our ideas. Kind of a cool reality, isn't it?
It's the truth: The degree to which our ideas delight us is the degree to which we're going to have exciting and enjoyable writing lives.
That's what I'm aiming for! You too, I'm guessing. ;)
I hope that Idea Camp has been fun for you! You now have some fantastic strategies for making appealing, useable, and energizing ideas!
SUPER good news for your work-in-progress, and for all those works to come! (Your future projects are all stoked, by the way.)
But today's our last post for Idea Camp. And the writing life is a big one. Which means that, we're all going to appreciate having even more idea-making guidance in the days to come!
Here are six of my favorite books for creativity and idea-making. If you've been reading the blog for a while, you've heard of them all. But they're a part of my core team when it comes to creativity, so they deserve a big shout-out at the end of Idea Camp!
If you want to level up in terms of creativity, consistency with idea-making, and general awesomeness (that's all of us, right?!), then these are the books to read!
This is, no surprise, a totally off-the-wall book. (Title kinda gives that away, right?) But it is super helpful at shaking up the way we normally think.
Von Oech asks provocative questions about creativity, and he flips the ways we normally approach problems.
This is where I learned about the oracle method, "stepping stone" ideas, and a bunch of other ways to reframe creative problems. (His concept of "the second right answer" is totally brilliant and oh so helpful!)
This book will help you with your writing, for sure, but—bonus!—it will also make you a creative, problem-solving dynamo in the rest of your life as well.
Yup, it was a mega-sensation in all creative-minded circles for a while, and for good reason. I devoured it, and then listened in on the accompanying podcast, "Magic Lessons," as well.
I just love Gilbert's frank discussion of creativity, her view of the artist's life, and her perspective on ideas like inspiration, wonder, and following your curiosity.
It's also just a thoroughly enjoyable read! This isn't so much a book about actively generating ideas, but the way she approaches creativity will definitely shift the pressure you feel in your writing life.
And that shift will bring wonder-filled ideas in its wake!
(I especially loved: the trickster vs. martyr discussion; the "sandwiches" we eat in pursuit of what we love; and the story about the lobster. Oh my gosh, the lobster. I laughed 'til I cried!)
PS, if you can't wait to get the book, check out her fantastic interview about Big Magic with Marie Forleo. It's all the things!!
Yep, I've done a post on this one before. But it's worth bringing up again here, because Kleon has such a helpful way of describing idea creation: he breaks it down and makes it feel so doable.
I love his whole concept of "the genealogy of ideas," and how he recommends learning from the artists you admire. He says:
Copy your heroes. Examine where you fall short. What's in there that makes you different? That's what you should amplify and transform into your own work.
How's that for inspiring?! Geez!
And then I'm also haunted by this bit of brilliance:
Think about your favorite work and your creative heroes. What did they miss? What didn't they make? ... If all your favorite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew?
Go make that stuff.
Riiiiiight?? Doesn't that just get your mind fizzing? The whole book is like that, so, if you haven't checked it out yet ... um, go do that.
(He has a pretty fantastic blog as well... hop on over. And also, if you're trying to wrap your mind around the whole Internet, social media, how-to-be-seen thing, his book Show Your Work! is also exquisite and deeply encouraging. It gave me the courage to start this blog.)
This one again! For sure. Not only does Tharp talk about all aspects of the creative life in a compelling and exciting way, but she also has incredible tips on how to find ideas.
The whole book is helpful for this, but the best chapter for finding ideas is "Scratching." Scratching is Tharp's term for that process of hunting for an idea. She has a bunch of great habits and routines for idea searching... you've gotta read that chapter and try her exercises! You'll have plenty of new ways to forage for brilliance.
My favorite-ever structure book belongs in Idea Camp?! Yup.
Because if you're writing a novel, and you don't know what do to next, it helps soooooo much to remember the conventions of the genre you're dealing with, the parts of story form (in scenes, in acts), and the "change curve" that Coyne explains.
Having a solid grasp of novel structure definitely saved my idea-making bacon with my work-in-progress! And understanding story form is critical when you're defining the problem that you're trying to solve.
It is seriously good.
Working through her daily writing prompts showed me just how incredible my brain can be at making ideas. At creating stories out of thin air. Even on days when I felt dull.
If you give the habit of writing exercises a try, you'll get into the mode of having a flexible, ready, energized mind, eager to snatch and develop any idea that crosses your path.
BASICALLY, you acquire idea-making superpowers. Yes, really.
Because some of the best ideas you'll ever get, you'll get while your pen is moving. And that is an exhilaration that's worth finding!
Oh, and the articles and essays that make up the rest of the content? MEGA valuable and encouraging.
Dive in: you won't regret it.
We did it!! A month of relishing all things idea-related. WHOA.
I'd love to hear how you're doing: which idea-generating practices have been the most helpful? Any writing blocks blasted away?
The second half of our writing year is going to be so full of good ideas now! Mmmm. Happy dreaming, lionhearts!