Some people imagine looking through a tiny little inch-square window and then describing what you see. Never look out too far at first - just keep it small. Small and specific. To get those creative juices flowing, you have to really not just look but see.
Which brings me to... FREE WRITING.
It works wonders.
Here is something I dug up from February 2006.
I was invited to a salon at the Ball State University Museum of Art in Muncie, Indiana.
Here is what the invitation said:
Join us for
Friday with Friends
Friday, February 17, 4:30-6:30 PM
5:00 pm Word Art
Join host and Muncie writer Margie Dimoplon for a salon featuring work inspired by the Collecting Modernism exhibition.
The galleries will be open for viewing of European Modernist Printed Pictures and Collecting Modernism: European Masterworks from the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute.
All ages are welcome.
Free admission, cash beer & wine service (with proof of age)
So I went and met some friends and lots of people I didn't know, and together we walked into the Collecting Modernism exhibit at the BSU Museum of Art. We were then given a little spiral notebook and a pencil each, and told to choose a painting, any one, and really study it. And we were given twenty minutes to write about it. Anything that comes to mind should go down on the page - anything at all. It was truly an experience because after the initial jitters (am I looking at the right piece for me? Am I seeing what I'm supposed to see? Is it really saying anything to me? What are the others writing? Is it as good as what they are writing? Is it worse? Better?) you come into your own world and everything else disappears. You are suddenly in a dream of this painting. It is all and everything. And you find that you just keep writing.
Cardinal, Cardinal! by Salvadore Dali, 1934. This painting inspired me.
What I wrote about it:
Small, dark, an echo of a dream, flash of an alter-reality. Reminder of work, hard work. Feminine. Five men hiding behind a relic, a woman, half nude, dominating a back and sunnier corner. Painterly. People everywhere but you don't see them.
Sun light. Coming out of darkness. Hard work and slaving over furniture. There are hats, work shirts, disintegration, collective destruction, tradition.
I feel like the woman seeks attention; I feel isolated looking at her.
Birds down in the bottom left-hand corner are feeding off seeds. Flung from where.
Looking for an oasis. Old photograph of her face is where it all starts. Ropes & shadow & sickness. A sun that won't shine on the group of men. Black? Brothers? Family members, friends?
"Fishermen" in a desert, juxtaposition of opposites. All men look down, hats-dark-blank-are their faces.
The only face we see is that of the woman (Salvadore's wife) who smiles fake, canned, tinny tune (if this were a sound) of a photograph.
Who fed the cardinals?
Who is the bedside table? A lost person? Disorienting.
Civilization vs nothingness. Holding out a hat in sadness.
Before I knew it the twenty minutes were up. As if Margie snapped her fingers and brought us all back from hypnosis, we withdrew to a beautiful, high-ceilinged room (The Brown Study Room) and then there we were asked for any volunteers to read what they wrote out loud.
Now I have never had a passion to do any public speaking.
However I somehow managed to do this in front of a room of people and survive.
A little from my diary:
The Brown Study Room echoes such that one does not have to really project his or her voice, and this is good because I am rather soft-spoken.
So I challenge you to turn off your phone, close your computer, and get an old-fashioned pen and paper. Find something that inspires you. Sit and free-write (or stand like I did) and see what happens! I guarantee it will be a great experience. Only rest assured you most likely won't have to stand up in front of a room full of people to read it!