On days like today – when the rain is relentless and all I’d rather do is curl up with a book or sit at the keyboard and write – is when I produce my best work. There’s something whimsical about the rain which brings out creativity. Whether anyone else has this motivation from the weather – specifically rain – I don’t know. I’m sure I’m not the first and I’m sure I won’t be the last.
What particularly struck me about today as a rainy day was that I had a revelation.
When I was younger – particularly between the ages of 9 and 13 – I produced a lot of work. I would write as much as I could whenever I could, and I’d work on the same stories for a long time. I’d read, I’d get excited by what films were coming out. I used to trawl the IMDb upcoming films list and go years ahead – to 2025 if I could – to see what was coming out. I’d make a list. I had a list of books I wanted to buy every year. I knew what I liked and I stuck with it.
But all that seemed to disappear in my teenage years. I’m not sure whether through the mire of teenage hormones, uncertainty, or ‘coming of age’ I was just exposed to a great deal of new worlds, experiences, and people. I used to look back on this time as ‘lost years’. But I’ve a different opinion of it now.
In the last four years, something interesting happened. I picked up books again. I wrote more. I watched what I wanted, but also became open to new ideas and didn’t turn my nose up at things which might influence me further. New genres are not bad things, neither is it a bad thing to explore the interests and suggestions of other people. Usually when someone says “you’ll like this” they’ve turned out to be right. Even though I’ve moved on from the imagination of twelve year old me in some ways, in other ways I’ve only evolved. The fire that was there hasn’t been extinguished. I like to think it’s just been split into several different fires.
I got to a point where I’d take great enthusiasm in a project at first, but my enthusiasm would die off quickly. Usually it’s because I thought I liked it at first – but being a very critical person, I’d pick holes in it, find errors, things I didn’t like. But I wouldn’t try to solve the problems. It was too much effort, too hard. I’d drop the project. Or, it would lead to me producing work I didn’t think was any good. I wasn’t pushing myself to create, I wasn’t inspired, I thought “I’ll never be as good as what is inspiring me.”
Now it’s a different story. I want to produce things as good as what inspires me, and that is a goal, not an obstacle. I’ll produce things that are good, but good in my own way. Individualism is something I forgot. I should not be attempting to copy – or if I do, it will always be in my own style. I should be taking what I love and turning it into new things.
I write more now. I do not think it’s a bad thing to be open to new ideas – and even as a child, that exposure during my teenage years was a good thing. It opened me up to new possibilities, things which even now will influence me in positive ways, even if I don’t recognize that. But slowly I’m getting back to seeing things that I love, rediscovering influences, old likes – even in music. I know what I like, but I love to find new things that I adore just as much.
The nature of inspiration and influence is a growing process. It’s not stagnant – it can’t be. As with anything creative, you must learn and grow and continue to produce. Otherwise you flatline, and you think your work isn’t any good. Because you are producing the same thing over and over again, and expecting change, without any input from any source other than the same material you’ve been consuming over and over again. Don’t get me wrong – I love to re-read my favourites, and re-watch films I’ve loved for a decade or more. But alongside that it’s good to find similar stuff, even if only connected by a theme, and find what you want to take from that in order to weave it into your own work.