Every creative person I know has some technique they call on to find inspiration. However, in many cases, it’s to scour what’s already been done in one form or another. In the advertising business, creative people used to stare at old award show annuals trying to figure out how to “borrow” an idea without anyone noticing. Now they search YouTube in quest of something obscure enough to modify or reapply.
Certainly we all find inspiration in what others have done before us. Even Jean Luc Godard said, “It’s not where you take things from it’s where you take them to.” Still, I am most recently motivated by a suggestion from my wife’s poetry workshop instructor. Her recommendation is simple. “Learn to let your mind wander.”
What a wonderful thought. “Learn to let your mind wander.” The fact that the sentence needs the word “learn” in it is telling. It implies we don’t yet know how. Or perhaps that with work, meetings, assignments, and screens consuming us, we’ve forgotten how.
Try it. You’ll realize that it’s not quite as easy as you might imagine. Yet if you do let your mind wander, you might actually discover something genuinely new, different and unexpected.
In fact if you’re really lucky perhaps you’ll achieve the ultimate outcome described by poet Adrienne Rich: “the crossing of two elements that might not otherwise have known simultaneity, thereby revealing a piece of the universe for the very first time.” Not a bad accomplishment for simply letting the mind go where it may.