Park Ridge, IL


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About Me

Finding Inspiration for Creative Endeavors

April 27, 2017

I came into college knowing that I wanted to minor in Creative Writing. In fact, having a creative writing program was one of my top considerations when looking for universities to apply to. Now, almost six semesters through college, I’ve taken four different creative writing classes. And while I’ve enjoyed every one, I’ve encountered many challenges—the most prominent of which is the lack of ideas.

As with all art forms, knowing where to start can sometimes be the biggest obstacle. To combat this dilemma, I have found a myriad of ways that work for me. While some who read this post may not see it as relevant—with the objection that “I don’t do anything creative”—I really suggest you try to explore some form of creative expression.

I’ve found that engaging in my creative interests has made me a better problem-solver in almost any context. In fact, creative problems can sometimes be the most difficult to solve because there doesn’t exist one correct answer. And almost every solution presents at least minor drawbacks. I think engaging in the arts in one way or another, regardless of prior interest, helps make us better thinkers. It strengthens our adaptability in problem-solving and can be a useful exercise—even for math majors.

So, what are some of the ways I overcome this idea lapse? One of the most effective methods, for me, has been to look up artistic photography, keying on photos with people. Sometimes I try to create a story out of the entire photograph; other times, I focus on a particular detail and let the narrative spring from there. As an example, here’s a photo that recently sparked an idea for my latest story:

A piece by professional photographer Sally Mann.

While the story took on a different tone than the photo, I used the idea of children playing on a ladder to begin my manuscript. And that’s all that inspiration has to do; it just needs to get you started. Discipline will then ensure that you finish.

Another great source of inspiration is music. Listening to a song—especially one that is predominantly instrumental—can serve as the underlying tone for a story. I’m often surprised how many images, or scenes, or characters spring up when my mind is invested in a song. Creativity lends to creativity, I guess.

The final method I’ll mention, and maybe as the most obvious to some, is exploration. Breaking from my everyday routine causes me to think in new ways and to notice details that I’ve maybe become numb to when in that daily autopilot mode. Sitting in my room—staring at my computer screen and wishing that the ideas will simply emerge from the ether—rarely helps the process. The best inspiration is often that which is furthest removed from the artistic process itself. 

My name is Joe. I am currently a freshman at the University of Richmond. I plan to major in Business (concentration undecided) and to minor in Creative Writing. I consider myself a man of diverse interests. I find just as much enjoyment in playing basketball as I do staying home to read a book. In terms of music, I'll listen to most anything, whether it's Frank Sinatra, today's top 100 hits, old school rap, or anything in between. Same goes for movies. New movies, old movies, black-and-white movies, action movies, romantic comedies, serious dramas. It doesn't matter; I'll watch them all (and often choose to). Aside from that, I'm simply excited to be at UR and to be able to share my experiences with prospective students, fellow classmates, and anyone else who may care to follow along.

Why UR?

A simple answer to the question "Why UR?" would be to say that it just felt right. Though, whereas that isn't inaccurate, I know how vague and frustrating an answer like that can be for readers. So, I will try to explain myself. The University of Richmond, as I researched it more and more, became continually more appealing. Every new thing I learned became another reason to attend. (That certainly was not the case with other schools.) I didn't have to wrestle with thoughts like, "I guess I can live with that" or "Maybe it won't seem like that when I'm actually there." In fact, even viewing the university with a critical eye, it was difficult to find something bad to say about it. That may sound like I'm simply affirming my final decision, but it's not easy to answer that question without directly showing someone what I'm trying to articulate. UR is a place that, although ripe for descriptive writing, must be experienced firsthand to truly understand. That, I believe, says more than any list of reasons ever could.