Sunday, June 8, 2014

Screen Saver Thoughts

Screen saver thoughts. I've mentioned these before, and I thought I'd explain a bit.

Inspiration comes in many forms to different people... 
C. S. Lewis saw images and scenes in his mind and built his stories around them:

Steven Moffat takes every day things and asks how you can make people scared to death of them:

 And some people have dreams that they turn into stories.

I get inspiration in most of the usual ways, but there is one that is unique, and sometimes a tad annoying.

We all have those times, every once in a while, where our brain just sort of shuts down. Our thoughts melt away, we may stare aimlessly into space, and we basically think of nothing whatsoever for a few seconds.

On these mindless occasions, my brain has what I call a screen-saver mode, like that of a computer. I won't be particularly thinking about anything, but an individual thought surfaces and rolls around, repeating itself. Often, this is every bit as silly and weird and pointless as it sounds. But sometimes, just sometimes...there's something there.

Have you ever tried to consciously clear your mind of all thought? It's easier said than done. Our minds don't much appreciate being idle. If you try this, you'll realize that as you are specifically trying very hard not to think about anything, you start thinking about some incredibly random things.


The best example I can give is from my story Fall of the Crowned Ones, which I wrote a post about some time ago. I mentioned then that it was inspired by a Screen Saver Thought. The thought that surfaced then was the opening line: I'll be dead in thirty minutes. Bizarre and a bit morbid when it just pops into your brain, but I'm a writer, so I wasn't worried. My response: “Really?! That's fantastic!” I knew I had a story right at that moment.

This isn't the first time a Screen Saver Thought has helped a story, but it is the first time that it has inspired a whole new one all on its own. In the past, when these abrupt and random wonderings started showing up, I did my best to ignore them, and I regret that I neglected to write them down until after I realized how useful they could be.

Where do these thoughts come from? (I'm sure a psychiatrist would have a field day explaining that one for you.) 

Here's what I think: Our minds are constantly soaking up data and filing this data away somewhere for future reference. We may hear someone say a phrase and then forget about that phrase for years until something brings it up again. It's the same thing with what we read in stories. I'm fairly certain that this is where these little bits of inspiration come from, at least in part. Frankly, I'm just glad I have them.

"our imagination is what keeps us alive"

What inspires you?