The Randomness of Creativity

Where do ideas come from?

How the hell would I know! I laugh when I say this, of course. When I’m writing fiction, it just kind of flows. I never know where the story is really going until I start to write it. No outline. No plan. That’s a dangerous way to write, some believe. But Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” I subscribe to that. It’s still dangerous.

It’s the same when I write memoir or personal essays. I really don’t know what I’m trying to say until I say it. This can lead to long roads down dead ends.

And this led me to thinking about the randomness of creativity.

In a recent interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard—the Norwegian author of My Struggle—he suggested the writing of his groundbreaking autobiographical novels was steeped in abandon. He was simply writing it all down. No story. No plot. Just the randomness of his life, in many ways. And other creatives have talked about how ideas for stories or art or songs have come to them out of nowhere, from the act of living, and sometimes the ones that resonate the most are the ones that they created just for the fun of it, for themselves, for their own amusement.

The Wild West of the Internet seems the perfect place for this kind of random creativity. Take Kevin Droniak—an 18-year old web sensation who started a YouTube channel of videos based on the time he spends with his grandmother.

He has more than 35 MILLION views.

How he get started? He simply liked videotaping his time with his grandmother, introducing her to new things, teasing her, and in an odd way capturing this sweet and interesting relationship. It’s funny stuff, yes. But it’s also heartwarming.

A random idea, produced because he loved doing it. And now Kevin has more views on his YouTube channel than some cable television shows have on their networks.

Whatever it is you do—write, paint, dance, play music—don’t dismiss doing it for you, doing what you love,  and embracing a random act of creativity.

More on this in the latest episode of THE BLEEDING TYPEWRITER podcast.

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