By Brenda Riojas, I Start Wondering Columnist
Where do ideas live? Sometimes they are seedlings; other times they are right in front of us. But sometimes we need to go on an expedition and feed our brains. These prospecting adventures give our subconscious mind and our imagination time to take in details of the kaleidoscope in our world.
Explore, look, research. Pay attention. “When your brain is exposed to stimulus, it creates new connections,” writes Doug Hall in his book Jump Start Your Brain. “They set off a chain reaction so that one thought provokes new thoughts, ideas and inspiration.”
Prometheus may have stolen fire from Olympus, but we can steal fire from the world around us to ignite new ideas. But this requires that we make time to explore. We must go prospecting, which is the fourth P in the creativity equation B (P5) = Aha!
As we go prospecting, we are feeding our subconscious mind and tickling our brain cells. As the late Flavia Weedn, an illustrator and author, wrote, “Become a searcher, for only those who seek are the finders of treasures.”
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, recommends going on artist dates to nurture “your creative consciousness, your inner child.” These dates, she notes, allow us to fill the well. “As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak.” Cameron believes, “If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked.”
Travel, one of my passions, fuels my creative well on multiple levels. Learning a new language, navigating unfamiliar streets in strange towns, meeting new people, trying different foods — all these experiences have fed my writings and ideas for different projects. You never know where moments of serendipity will strike, but we must go in search.
Closer to home I have some favorite places where I go prospecting for ideas. These include craft stores, antique shops, museums, art galleries, hardware stores, nature parks, books, the radio and even my backyard. I never tire of going through the paint chips at Home Depot or Lowe’s to peruse the names of the different hues – palisade orchid, mecca gold, pink flambé, lettuce alone.
I also find great joy in collecting words that intrigue me. A single word can inspire a poem or a story. Always, I am jotting down the names of flowers, insects, streets. I am intrigued as well by the titles of paintings and sculptures. Online, I sometimes lose track of time when I’m on Pinterest and Etsy as I hunt for ideas.
Be sure that as you feed your brain, you are prepared to take note of all that piques your interest and makes your imagination soar. Keep an audio recorder, notepad or sketch book close at hand. Capture the images, sounds, aromas, textures. You may be surprised by the unexpected connections your brain makes of all that you come across as you go prospecting.
Much closer to home, we can explore our minds for ideas by brainstorming, mind mapping and probing. Don’t stop searching. Peel the onion. Keep asking “why?” and take care not to stop at the first answer.
Sophocles once said, “Look and you will find it – what is unsought will go undetected.” This week and then as often as possible after that, schedule some time for yourself to explore. Go on a field trip, set an artist date with yourself. Go out, search, steal fire from the gods.
Connect with Brenda on Twitter @brendariojas