Looking for help, I went to the International Center for Women Playwrights, which is always supportive, and asked the list: Where do your ideas come from? I got many different responses.
Many people are most receptive to creative thinking when in motion. Ideas come to them while they are driving. Susan said, “Mine is in the car on the highway when I am alone.” For some ideas come when they are doing the dishes, picking up the mail. Deb said, “Mine is on my feet: I do some of my most creative work on my daily walk.” Angelina likes a “reasonably quiet public place, or at home. I like seeing trees and a wide sky.”
I understand that. When my husband and I wrote screenplays together, we took long walks, got lots of exciting ideas and shed pounds. I continue to walk, love the rhythm of walking, and find the quiet surroundings soothing, but for a long time, I’ve thought only about my daily to do list when out for a stroll.
Water is a powerful muse. Hindi wrote, “My muse is water…especially the ocean. I look at it and it is so much bigger and powerful that my little writer worries disappear and I’m able to write.” Others like to think in the bath and shower. Lori combines motion and water. She says she gets ideas “during my daily walk on the river. Occasionally, when I swim. But as I live in Seattle, these often feel like the same thing.”
I understand that, too. Ideas used to come to me when I was in the bath but in the bath now I can’t hear anything but Edie Brickell singing “In the Bath.”
People find sleeping and dreaming productive. Ideas sneak into the brain when one is half-asleep or lucidly dreaming. Letitia said, “I get my most creative ideas in that half-sleep as I’m waking up in bed but not quite awake.” Sandra keeps post-its by her bed to capture those ideas that come in the middle of the night.
Some people are alone when musing. Some get their best ideas in company, people watching and listening. Martha gets ideas “from watching actors I know that I’d like to write parts for.” Meg’s ideas come when she is working on something else – “Right now I’m working on a travel blog from our journey 2009-2010 to India, France, and Morocco. Each picture helps to bring out thoughts not only on the moment, but also deeper or analytical questions that I’ve studied or thought about for years.”
I thought that knowing how and where people write could help. Most said they sit at a computer, some daily, some not. Some need only a computer, quiet, and coffee. Pam wants a one room cabin up in the mountains, Sandra has a 1940’s oak teacher’s desk. Letitia “may be on a velvet sofa or on the leather sofa depending on my picky mind-body moods.”
I’ve been writing in longhand. I work at the office rather than at home. I’ve been writing in my car, in the laundry room, desultorily, or with what Alan Bennett calls, “grim application”.
Maybe, trying to write short pieces could help, I thought. Ann said, “The “sprints” somehow help me with longer pieces, even though they have nothing to do with one another. For example, a memory piece on my grandmother’s kitchen preceded an academic piece on deconstruction and Pinter!”
I took several stabs at ten minutes plays but nothing. Nada. Zip.
However, I did get some excellent advice and was pleased to connect with the creative women on the ICWP list, which I recommend to all.
The International Center for Women Playwrights – http://www.womenplaywrights.org/