I discovered, via Austin Kleon, this video of a talk given by Ray Bradbury, and in it he gave some interesting advice to writers regarding generating ideas. He challenged them to read, every night, for 1000 days:
- One short story
- One poem
- One essay
Julia Cameron, in her seminal book The Artist’s Way, referred to this as stocking your pond/filling the well, feeding your creativity raw material in which to transmute. She proposed artist’s dates, in which you take yourself out on a “date”, by yourself, in order to nourish your inner artist child. She emphasized that these do not have to be expensive, lavish experiences. It can be as simple as going to the craft store and buying yourself some stickers, walking around the local art museum, or setting aside an hour a day to read. The only rules were that you had to do this at least once a week, you had to be by yourself, and you shouldn’t take it too seriously. The artist’s date is, after all, about whimsy and play: things we don’t get enough of as an adult.
I have already been mulling over my Bradbury “pile”: the three books I want to keep at the kitchen table in order to encourage daily reading. Michel de Montaigne’s Complete Essays, is on my list, as is the Norton Anthology of Poetry. I’m still trying to figure out a good source of short stories, though.