Do Trying Times Ignite Creativity?


It's like somebody switched on my creativity button!

The strangest thing of late.

I am not a fiction writer. Never have been. Likely never will be. However……

in recent months I’ve had several occasions in which I see something or hear something and it appears as a typed-out line in my thoughts, like a writing prompt, inviting me, saying, “Go ahead. Take it from there. What might happen next?”

Immediately, a handful of different scenarios play out in the my thoughts without my trying to think of any. It’s happened at least 6-8 times and I don’t know what to make of it.

* * *

FOR EXAMPLE, I’m driving out a country road to the kennels and I hear a beep and the little gas tank light comes on. I’ve just passed the last gas station. The little typed line appears – “Her gas light came on just as she passed the last gas station on the way to the kennel” – and I start imagining what happens to “her.”

Does she turn around? Does she keep going? If she breaks down, WHO might she encounter? What role will that person play in her life? And what role do the DOGS play?

I spent the rest of my trip out there and back, musing the possibilities…and NOT stopping for gas! I have no respect for people like this, who get lost in thought, musing possibilities and ignoring practicalities. 🙂

* * *

ANOTHER EXAMPLE: Last month, while at a Tim Horton’s in Canada (I try to work the fact that I crossed the border into as many conversations as I can), I notice someone has left a cup of coffee sitting on the counter near the register. Just ahead of us, there had been a number of people appearing to pick up orders to take back to the office or to the job site. Now they are gone.

I am completely distracted, imagining one scenario after another involving people wondering what has happened to that forgotten coffee. I imagine a person climbing into a car in the parking lot, then someone already several blocks away, then someone who has just arrived at the office and realizes it’s missing. I imagine their various reactions and the degree to which the missing coffee is driving them nuts.

Picture 3

In no time, I have a feature-length film running in my head, all stemming from a lone cup sitting on the counter.

(Just then, a construction worker came through the door and said, “Ah, THAT’s where it is!” He looked amiable. I might give him a part in my movie.)

WHAT is causing this sudden spurt of imagination? Go figure! But an article in today’s New York Times talks about the possible connection between tough times and creativity.

Do tough times extinguish creativity or ignite it?

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
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4 Responses to Do Trying Times Ignite Creativity?

  1. njlindquist says:

    You crossed the border into Canada and didn’t visit moi! What’s up with that????

    As for your latest venture into the world of “what if?”- welcome! It’s a very fun place to be. Except – how come what I always come up with are places to find bodies????


  2. Beth says:

    hahahaha. What a fun piece to read! Imagination is a wonderful release for when real life gets a bit heavy. At least that’s my experience. 🙂


  3. Marilyn says:

    It was a fun piece to write, too, Beth! And true. Very true.

    As for Nancy: Hahahaha. I don’t know why you always find dead bodies. Is this true of all mystery writers? You must have some very interesting sharing when you all gather together at a conference.


  4. Fern says:

    I enjoyed your “story starters.” That happened to me while playing golf near a railroad track yesterday. I thought my writing career was like getting “on track” and staying until the end of the journey. My next thought was, “Why don’t I stay on track?” My conclusion was: a writing career has many stops along the way. You have to get off the train, enjoy whatever is at that stop, then hop on again.


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