Inspiration and non-inspiration


During times of collaboration, especially when working on the same document, Anne and I throw out ideas and they mesh, they work, it’s great. I’m sure you’ve had that feeling during a team meeting – the energy feels contagious. Everybody’s in the same groove and each idea adds upon the other. Soon, you’re all ready to go to work and produce the vision of the game you all see in your heads.

But what about those times when you’re tired and the inspiration just won’t come?

Julia Cameron, author of the The Artist’s Way, tells creatives to “fill the well” and go out on “artist dates” to prevent inspirational dry spells. By this, she means, go out and do something interesting. Go to a movie, an art show, maybe inspiration will hit you. Or you can call this research. As Tim Schafer once said at GDC, research is something you do until you figure out what you’re going to do with your game.

Shigeru Miyamoto said in his 2007 GDC Keynote that he found inspiration for his game designs in everyday activities, such as walking his dog and gardening. Think about Claude Monet… he painted his water garden for 30 years! I too have found that inspiration can come from anyplace, anytime, but mostly, I think it has to do with my finding a quiet center. I write in noisy hotel lobbies but I also write in public gardens with only the sounds of water and buzzing bees reaching my ears.

It helps to recall how you felt when you were in a meditative space. Maybe it was at the Rothko Chapel. Maybe you were riding solitary on your motorbike. Meditative spaces can be found everywhere.

Most recently, I recall an experience at last year’s Come Out and Play Festival in New York City. Across from the hubbub, I sat in a darkened multimedia installation, watching synthetic meteors hit New York City. It repeated over and over. It was quiet except for the supposed sound of impact on cityscape. I felt calmness. I was quiet.

Meditative spaces are different for each person. What I described works for me, but it may not work for you. What method do you use to recharge your inspiration?

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Published in: on October 17, 2007 at 12:08 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] an idea that excites every member of the team.  Writers who have experienced successful sessions describe a lift in the entire room when they’ve hit on the right idea.  The energy spikes and smiles appear, […]

  2. I had a problem with this recently. I just started working on a new team on a new project for a setting I hadn’t been involved with for at least ten years. (Planescape) I was tasked with writing global dialogue for one of the cant-heavy companions, and I was having a rough time getting started. So I got out my Planescape books and read through the narrative in each chapter, then I start playing through Planescape: Torment again until I was itching to write. It made a significant difference.

    Usually when I’m unmotivated or feel like the words aren’t flowing I will watch a movie, play a game, or read a book that has a particularly good use of writing. Lately I’ve been watching Pushing Daisies, and that gives lots of inspirational for whimsical narrative.

  3. Pushing Daisies is the best! I commend you on that. I also (re)learned about what I call the “Subtle Set-up” from that show, which I wrote about on my other blog:

    Luckily, inspiration is a bit easier when you’re working on something other people have already written for. Good thing you had old Planescape stuff handy.

  4. Definitely.

    While I’m thinking of it, I wanted to ask you a couple things. I hope it’s alright if I include you on my blogroll. My own blog serves as a writing portfolio and also a place for me to share my thoughts on writing and the things I’m learning making the transition to game writer. I’m always looking to build contacts with and learn from other writers in the industry, and I’m sure anyone that ever stumbles over my blog would appreciate links of wisdom.

    On that note, do you know of any other game writers or designers who fill the role of writer that keep blogs with tips and articles?

  5. We always like incoming links, so no need to ask! As for other blogs, feel free to poach our blogroll, which went through a highly selective process involving asking a couple friends, “What do you read?”

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