Creative Juices, On The Rocks Please

By Elaina Taylor

~Oh but they’re so spaced out, ba-ba-ba-Bennie and the Jeetttsss
Oh but they’re weird and they’re wonderful
But Bennie she’s-a really keeennn~

“Elaina, what on earth are you doing?”

I pause my singing, twist my head. My door, which was formerly ajar, has now been pushed fully open to reveal a very baffled roommate. I just laugh, surveying the mess strewn around me on my bed, the product of handing my inner five-year-old paper and scissors and setting it free.

“I’m searching for creative inspiration!”

It’s Sunday night and my essay for my creative nonfiction class is due tomorrow, yet I am stuck, firmly wedged between my perfectionist tendencies and writer’s block. Tantalizing ideas always dart around in my head and then dissipate like morning mist when the time comes to translate them to paper. I’ve sat at this computer for a whole hour now, and that eureka moment has eluded me thus far. After a few more mind-numbingly-frustrating minutes, I begin actively searching elsewhere for inspiration.

~ • ~

Occasionally this means sifting through my stockpile of inspiration, my imagination compilation; I constantly collect quotes, little snippets of information, random facts – harbored in the notes section on my iPhone, set adrift on seas of sticky notes, or scribbled on whatever writing surface was closest at the time.

These tidbits always tend to spark something in my brain, even if they’ll never get used, they always get me thinking, questioning, curious. Did you know that our sense of smell is most closely linked to memory? Oh, would I love to peek into your brain after you read this sentence to discover what first popped up in your thoughts. Lobsters, yes, lobsters the culinary delicacy, can live to be over a hundred. Food for thought, quite literally. Thanks to technology, with an electronic eye and an implant, a man who previously viewed the world in grayscale due to an extreme form of colorblindness can hear color. One of the more captivating TED talks for sure – “I Listen to Color” by Neil Harbisson.

~ • ~

Most often, I turn to music in search of creative stimulus. My poetry professor says that the creative process to craft one art form is the same for all other artistic compositions, and I love seeking out ingenuity through other mediums of creation. As one who sings constantly, in music I find both solace and a challenge. There’s just something about the freedom, joy and ease I feel when singing that allows my cramped brain to loosen up and finally let the thoughts that had been percolating there to flow unhindered onto the page. And more often than not, this singing is accompanied by none other than dancing, usually done with complete abandon in the comfort of my own room. (It’s right around this point that my brain gets so embarrassed by the actions of its physical vessel that it will ship over the necessary language just to get me out of the dance funk I’m shimmying around in.)

~ • ~

But when that doesn’t work, I let myself get swept up in another world – that of the human experience. Little else captivates the human brain like stories, which explains why, for as long as I can remember, stories have always enthralled me. The medium through which the story is expressed matters little; I always get lost in the world of books, films, and TV shows. As a kid, I would constantly get in trouble for reading in class when I wasn’t supposed to be. But more than that, I love hearing about people’s lives, their interests, their experiences, what makes them unique. Perhaps that is why inevitably, at least once throughout my day, I check for new posts on the Humans of New York Facebook page. A blog created by photographer Brandon Stanton, he travels around NYC, and occasionally other countries, taking photographs and collecting quotes from his subjects along the way. For me, the breathtaking result is not only a daily dose of perspective, it’s a reminder that these short interviews barely skim the surface, and that these amazing human beings have so many more stories to tell.

So I ask you: What mesmerizes your imagination? How do you stay creative? What inspires you?

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