I just finished reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and I really enjoyed it. I particularly loved her perspective on where ideas come from. As a writer, I certainly get inspiration from reading books and articles and watching TV and Film. Often my ideas come from discussions with other people. But in many cases my ideas seem to appear as if from nowhere. Gilbert puts forth in her writing that ideas are disembodied energies that are waiting to be manifest by someone. This applies to all endeavors, whether art, writing, scientific, political, religious or whatever. So when you create—and Gilbert and I both believe that we are all creative in our own ways—ideas seem to get pulled out of thin air. Ideas are in the ether and make their way to you so that they can be realized. Almost like magic.
I find this a fascinating viewpoint. When I described it briefly to my mom, she used the expression, “from the collective unconscious.” And I think that is a similar though more grounded in human psyche way to consider where ideas come from. If an idea is already part of the collective conscious then someone probably has already manifested it in some form. This explains why so many creative works aren’t truly brand new, but rather variations on a theme. Creative things many be unique and wonderful and beautiful and fantastic because of the person who brought them forth to the world, even if they were already part of the world in a different form. How many variations of Pride and Prejudice are there out there? Many—and yet they are all creative in their own way.
I do experience times when ideas float down to me as Gilbert describes. But I often feel like ideas are floating around inside me, living within me until they decide to come out to play. Like the ideas need to percolate and dance around until they have gathered up enough speed to make their way to my consciousness. Sometimes I can draw a line between the flow of ideas to my mind, but other times the words come directly from my fingertips without making a stop at my mind—or so it seems. In these cases it really does feel like a magical process where the ideas are simply being manifest through me. How lucky we are to have creative spirit run through us.