Director David Lynch on Ideas and Creativity

(This article contains affiliate links. When you order something from Amazon through these links, we receive a small advertising fee. It doesn’t cost you any more.) According to “Encyclopaedia Brittanica,” David Lynch is an Oscar winning director best know for his mind-bending films, “Eraserhead,” “Blue Velvet,” and “Mullholland Drive.” The TV series “Twin Peaks” originally ran for two seasons in 1990-1991 and inspired the prequel “Fire Walk with Me”; he brought the series back to the small screen in 2017. Lynch has also had is paintings and photos exhibited in Paris. Where does he think ideas come from?

Daydreaming and Travel

In his interview with “the Atlantic,” Lynch said, “You can catch ideas from daydreaming…” If you want to use daydreaming as a way to get those ideas, you need to set time aside to do it. Too often, people are far too busy and stressed to have time to daydream.

“…or you can catch ideas from places. If you think that maybe a place can conjure ideas, then you have to go out of the house and go travel.” New ideas aren’t the only benefit of travel. Going to new places and immersing yourself in new cultures will help create flexibility in thinking and adaptability. It opens the mind and provides a new way to look at the world.

Enjoying the Process

Lynch said in “the Atlantic” interview, “A lot of artists think that suffering is necessary, but in reality, any kind of suffering cramps the flow of creativity… Happiness in the doing is so important.” When you enjoy the process, you get into the flow of doing the creative act. Researcher Csikszentmihalyi describes this flow state as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

Capturing Ideas

In a “conversation with Paul Holdengraeber,” Lynch says that when you get an idea: “you write that idea down, so you won’t forget it. And that idea that you caught might just be a fragment of the whole, whatever it is you’re working on, but now you have even more bait. Thinking about that small fragment, that little fish, will bring in more, and they’ll come in and they’ll hook on.” By capturing the idea, you earn the ability to get more ideas, and these ideas can lift you out of the drudgery to some “fantastic things.”

The Ideas You Love

In an interview with Russel Brand, Lynch says, “I fall in love with certain ideas and I want to realize those.” If you had to judge the ideas morally, “you would never be able to work… It’s the fantastic thrill of making them.” You have to be true to the idea, so that it will come out right.

Creativity is a meta-skill that you can apply across subjects. If you want to learn about becoming more creative in your area of expertise, subscribe to this blog and join our Patreon. My books “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” offer researched-based creativity tips in a fun way. “Penguinate! Positive Creativity” and “Penguinate! The Disney Company” offer essays and short stories with activities at the end to help you improve your creativity.

Problems Starting a New Project: The Musical

While it may seem easy to start working on a new project, it’s actually one of the hardest things for any creative to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the need to market all of the earlier projects, the need to make money at a regular job, housework needs to be done, too many ideas without the corresponding time, not knowing which idea will be profitable, the last project isn’t truly finished but the creative person is waiting on someone else to do his or her job… The list goes on and on and includes at least one-part procrastination and one-part relaxation.

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Two Causes of Creative Blocks and How to Break Them

The most common cause of creative blocks is fear. Fear of failure, fear of not living up to the hype of a previous success, fear of doing something wrong, fear of not being accepted, fear of rejection, fear of disappointing someone – yourself, your families, you friends… There are a thousand fears that can stymie creativity.

While you will never be able to eliminate fear, you can face it and break through it. Sit down in your creative space and get to work. It doesn’t matter what you create, just start the work. Once you get started, the fear will go away. You don’t even have to work on your next project. Give yourself 20 minutes of freestyle creativity to get the juices flowing and then start on the project that has you scared. And it is always the project that scares you the most that you should work on. It will be the most truthful, the most artistic and lead you to the most happiness and success. Facing your fear and working on that which you fear is the only way to overcome a fear-based creative block.

Another cause is the exhaustion of the creative well. If you’re a full-time creator, chances are you’re on the treadmill of having to produce content or something creative every day. Day after day, you have to have new ideas, make new art, and do everything that comes with marketing because if you don’t you may not eat next month. If you have a job and are creating on the side, just the job can be taxing enough that it makes it hard to come home and spend time on doing what’s really important, being with your family, creating, and not succumbing to (insert addictive entertainment of choice here).

Creators will tell you that ideas come from nowhere or everywhere. But the truth of the matter is, ideas can only come to you when you have a well full of information, experiences and emotion. Being numb is the artist’s worst affliction. Hopefully, you have some tricks that will help you be creative even when you feel like you’re out of ideas.

Keeping a journal, going for a walk, and faking it ‘til you make it are among tried and true strategies. Read a magazine or a book that’s outside your normal reading material. Travel to someplace new, even if it’s a nearby park. Contact your inner child and explore the edges of your yard. Observe, observe closer, observe again; too much of life is spent on auto-pilot engage with your surroundings, ignore your phone and see what you’ve been missing.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improving Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Is Brainstorming a Good Thing?

In “How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery,” Kevin Ashton questions the validity of brainstorming for creativity. His main objection stems from the fact that brainstorming doesn’t have a way to turn ideas into reality. For Ashton, having ideas is not being creative; the ideas must be realized in order for creativity to result.

Ashton is not the only creativity author to poke this particular hole in brainstorming. Edward de Bono also believes that brainstorming is inefficient and a bad way to come up with ideas. Having more ideas doesn’t mean having better ideas, and businesses need better ideas.

Another failure of brainstorming is the exclusion of people who are shy. Even with instructions involving no judgement and participating, those who are afraid of failure, making mistakes, public speaking, or being laughed at, may hold their ideas back. Instead, Ashton says the research suggests that people working alone come up with as many ideas as people working together, and the ideas will be better. Groups tend to fixate on one idea as the brainstorming goes on.

Brainstorming was originally used in advertising to come up with ideas. What makes it work is how you use it and what you do when done. Brainstorming sessions have their place in creativity, but it needs someone to guide the ideas from the whiteboard to reality. If you’re using it in a business, the person implementing must have the power to do so.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improving Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”