Tending Your Inspirational Garden | Creator’s Corner #1

By Colin Sharpe

June 23, 2020


Hello everyone and welcome to another Video/Blog/Podcast from the Seventh Valkyrie!

I’m your host Colin Sharpe, and today I’m talking about a theme I’ve touched on quite a bit on the podcast: writing and creating. For a while I was smushing all of my thoughts on writing and creating, my favorite media, and The Seventh Valkyrie series all in one podcast, and as we move on past the launch of Volume 1, A Slanted Reflection, I’m going to take a bit more time to focus on each of these areas in a little more depth. 

See the full video version of this Episode Here. You can also listen to the audio version on the Seventh Valkyrie Podcast

I’m actually really excited about this! I haven’t quite had the time to focus on these, and I’ve got a lot of thoughts to share. Anyway, onward!

Today, we’re talking a bit about the concept of inspiration. How it comes to be, how you can foster it in your own live, and a few fun ways that I like to think about it. 

The Compost Heap and the Seed

Neil Gaiman has a great concept of the “compost heap” that he uses to describe inspiration. To Neil, all of the experiences that you have, the media that you consume, the ideas that you chat about or jot down and toss out, they all comprise little scraps that go onto this big mental compost heap. Then, you ignore it for a while and leave it in the backyard, but eventually you come back and that jumbled blend of ideas is the fertilizer and the base upon which you build awesome ideas. 

I actually take that metaphor a bit further when I’m describing my own creative process. The compost heap, all of those things that simmer there in the background and churn and decompose into fuel, they’re incredibly powerful and they’re absolutely necessary. But a compost heap by itself doesn’t create beautiful art.

To create beautiful art, you need a seed. Maybe it’s a specific experience, maybe it’s a quote, maybe it’s something you read or you see or you hear or you taste, but any piece of art needs a seed, some spark from your life that sets the whole project growing. 

Seeds You Might Recognize

For example, when James Cameron got super sick and had a fever dream about an unkillable assassin sent to kill him, that was the seed, and the project eventually became The Terminator.

When Kanye West went into self-imposed exile after his stunt at the VMAs with Taylor Swift, and had an epiphany that rather than hiding, he wanted to embrace his own particular brand of crazy, that was a seed. And it grew into My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, one of the three best albums of the 2010s.

Ideas Taking Root

Now, both of those seeds were sort of happenstance, but you can put yourself in a position to find a seed too. Brainstorming, creating art, noodling on a guitar, drafting and doodling, they’re all ways to “intentionally” discover a seed, rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, and either way works. 

However, there is one thing to definitely keep in mind. A seed can come in many shapes and sizes, but one fundamental aspect of seeds are that they need a thriving compost heap to effectively take root. If you don’t have all those little many little scraps and ideas digested, then that experience or spark just becomes part of the compost heap. Now, that’s not always a bad thing! Any experience, anything you consume, it all builds up the compost heap, or becomes that seed that starts a whole project churning.

The best is when a good seed hits a compost heap that’s just waiting to explode with life. That’s when you have artists or creators who talk about being taken over by a project, where the art practically creates itself. It’s usually because they already had a killer compost heap full of rich, dense ideas and content and concepts that’s just ready to be activated by a new seed. 

Tending To Your Inspirational Garden

Developing a strong compost heap, and searching for seeds really comes down to two simple tasks. 

Live your life, and consume media and art. 

That’s it. It’s the coming together of powerful life experiences and our history of consumed art that creates the holy matrimony of a good idea, and worthwhile art.

Now, what that means to each of us is totally different, and that’s the awesome part. For me, I personally like to dive into a wide array of varied experiences, because I think that exploring the world and exposing myself to a combinations of seemingly unrelated things, like soccer and music, or food and stories, get my mind spinning with new ideas. I’m the same with media — I can find inspiration for the Seventh Valkyrie while watching a sitcom, figure out plot structures while playing Pokemon. 

The one constant is that you’ve got to live your life (I usually focus on encountering new places, people, and nature), and you’ve also got to nom nom nom and eat up all of that good art, music, TV, literature, theater, etc. etc. If you do that, you’re already on the way to creating good art, and honestly, it’s a great way to live life anyway! 

Anyway, that’s it for this week’s extended metaphor! Hope you liked it, and I’ll talk to you all soon.

And if you have any questions about writing and creating, or something you’d like me to cover, let me know!

Colin Sharpe

About the author

Hey y'all, my name is Colin, and I'm the writer and creator of the Seventh Valkyrie Series. Born in raised in New Orleans, currently on a tour of the world writing wherever I go, and turning it all into stories. Hope y'all like reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

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