Creating from the Familiar

Have you watched The Mandalorian yet? It’s worth it just to listen to the opening theme music. It has this haunting western-scifi feel that is utterly unique, compelling, and has a complexity that allows you to discover something new each time you listen.

My husband, being the musician he is, found this video about how the composer of The Mandalorian, Ludwig Göransson, found the Mando sound. What struck me about Ludwig’s process was how he created a piece of art so unique by returning to the common and familiar instruments of his childhood.

Ludwig also mentioned multiple times that he “locked himself in his studio for a month,” away from his normal sound equipment and high-end sound tech, in order to create these Mando songs. 

Most of us don’t have that luxury; however, it does make me wonder if this Academy Award-winning composer was dealing with a little bit of writer’s block–complete conjecture–and needed to clear his mind and workspace of distraction.

Maybe he needed to return to the familiar to create.

Are you struggling with finding inspiration or the creative energy to write lately? It would be completely understandable, if so. Maybe a return to your familiar will help unearth a deep well of creative energy.

Revisit Childhood for Inspiration

When was the last time you read your favorite book from when you were a kid? Maybe the first chapter book that made you fall in love with words?

The oldest patootie and I recently started reading A Wrinkle in Time together. Her first time, my fortieth. And I was struck by the way the rhythm of Madeline L’Engle’s words fell into place for me. Much like Ludwig going back to the recorder, rereading one of my favorite childhood books cracked opened the well to my struggling creativity (thanks 2020). 

As I rediscover this book through the eyes of my patootie, I’m struck by how much Ms. L’Engle’s descriptions impacted the way I write today. Not only is it inspiring and motivating me to deepen my descriptions, but it is helping add a layer of creativity to my current work.

Play That Funky Music

Music plays such an important part in many authors’ writing process–so much so that it’s fairly common for an author to post their book’s playlist on their website. But have you ever tried listening to some old favorites to inspire an emotion you need to write? Maybe an angsty song from your teenage years to inspire betrayal or love at first sight. Or your wedding song. Maybe yours and your best friend’s favorite tunes or artist? 

Music is important because it hits us in such a personal and unique way, and different music affects us differently at different times. And when we hear those songs again, we often remember where we were, who we were with, and how we were feeling with startling accuracy.

Pick Up Old Habits

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my writing routines…or lack thereof (this one goes out to all parents of young kiddos in the middle of a pandemic).

First, I want to go on the record of saying that I do not believe in shaming yourself into writing. 2020 has been exceptional in many ways, and if the most you can do is write 200 words a month? Go you. It is more important to have grace with yourself than beat yourself into creative burnout.

What did I do well when I did have a good, solid writing routine?

For one, I had a strict bedtime that didn’t allow for excess Netflix binging. I also woke up earlier than everyone else in the house…and often that was the only time I could get work done. Frequent walks by myself gave me much-needed brainstorming time. And I did a better job of balancing my time between day job, family, and writing.

Not all old habits are easy or healthy to pick up. But some are. 

As often as I’ve talked about the importance of new experiences to creativity, it is also important to have some familiar routines to fall back on when life gets too big.

Memories of Days in the Sun

(Bonus points to those of you who name that song.)

Speaking of the importance of new experiences to creativity, when you can’t travel for inspiration, revisit your days in the sun. Through photos.

I love Google Photos. They’ll send me my year ago, two years ago, seven years ago, etc photos and it is so much fun. Recently I’ve received a flood of Cruising Writers photos and have spent more time than I care to admit to my husband revisiting those memories and emotions. My photos from our international trips help me recall the way a city smelled or a pastry tasted or how the off-tune, accordion-playing, opera-singer-in-training sounded.

Maybe your photos aren’t vacation photos. Maybe they are family or friend photos. Maybe they are nature hikes or sunsets or the fish you’ve caught. Whatever they are, they are your memories and each one still holds captive a little bit of that moment for you, waiting for you to take another peek, soak it in, and use it for inspiration.

To an outsider, these activities may seem like you’re wasting your time or procrastinating doing something else. But for those in the know, they’ll recognize these activities exactly for what they are.

Food for your creative soul.

Christina Delay

Resident Writing Coach

Christina is the hostess of Cruising Writers and an award-winning psychological suspense author. She also writes award-winning supernatural suspense under the name Kris Faryn. You can find Kris at: Bookbub ǀ Facebook ǀ Amazon ǀ Instagram.

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Charis Rae @ Charis Rae

I love staying in touch with past childhood memories, and I’m so thankful to God to have so many wonderful ones. Childhood adventures/stories from me and my dad made up the backbone of my current story! Loved this post and the ties to The Mandalorian! 🙂

27 days ago

Love this post. Inspiration that triggers our deepest emotions always puts my feet bacon the right track. The Google Photos reminded me of my phone, which does the same thing. And sometimes during the day I am just stressed and need clarity, so I pull out my phone and see what memory is waiting for me. 🙂