A Friend's List

Lists and Creative Inspiration

I got thinking about lists the other day as my husband and I finished some last minute decorating before company arrived. We had so much to accomplish it forced us to write it all down so we wouldn’t miss anything. Then that got me thinking about the power of lists and how they can a spark creative surprise.  Years ago I read Ray Bradbury’s book ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’. I never forgot how he used lists of nouns to find his stories and THAT got me thinking, “What makes a good list?”

(See what I did there? Made a list of how I got to here…)

Ray Bradbury and the creative power of lists

Mr. Bradbury stumbled on the power of lists when he was a young writer. Trying hard to write like his literary heroes, he struggled to find his own voice.

“It was only when I began to discover the treats and tricks that came with word association that I began to find some true way through the minefields of imitation.”

By creating groups of words, brief notes and descriptions he discovered “what went on behind my face.” Eventually he refined his method to long lists of nouns. Reading over his lists, he’d see patterns and the connections suggested titles which led to his stories and books.

That’s the power of a list. While seemingly random, they show us patterns that might have remained unnoticed. Creativity happens when we look past the established patterns of others and find new, exciting patterns that are unique to us.

A few ways to create lists for brainstorming:

Pinterest Boards

Lists don’t have to be linear or even words. I love doing Pinterest searches on random words to see what comes up. Try putting in a colour or an activity that interests you. All those boards are actually lists. Eye candy for those of us who love visuals!

A Friend's ListWith a little help from friends

Ask a question on Facebook about anything to generate lots of ideas: inspirational artists, favorite books on creativity or best tools for ( fill in the blank). One post and you’ll have a valuable list in no time.

Just recently I asked in a Facebook group about games they played as kids. Their wonderful memories inspired a post about creative play as well as some valuable connections. I asked another group about people who inspired them and the response was amazing. Lots of ideas there!

Or ask the Google god. Input any search term you’re curious about and instantly…a list of possibilities.

Build a list

I keep lists in my bullet journal about things that interest me such as ‘Books to Inspire”, “Lives to Learn About” and “Places to Visit”. I add to these lists as I come across new ideas and suggestions.

Mind Map ListAnd last but not least on my list of lists…

Who made up the rule that a list must be linear? Ever created a MindMap? I love MindMapping because its an organic process that works the way my brain works, popping out ideas through association.

Share your favourite ways to spark creativity in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Lists and Creative Inspiration”

  1. I like to do brainstorming in my journal. I try to turn off the critic in my head and come up with ideas, even wild and random ones. Eventually, I reject the unworkable ideas and I make a list with the ideas that are left. It helps with big projects.

    1. Hi Alice. I’m a BIG believer in journals. It’s fun to go back to my lists to see what came true and it usually surprises me. We made a list of all the things we wanted in our new home here in Nova Scotia and when I looked at again months later we nailed every one of them. That’s the power of a list, for sure!

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