A lot of people ask me, "Hey Mike, where do all of your ideas come from?"
To which I reply, "Your mom," and then I throw in a knowing wink.
As funny as that is to ME each time I say it, it's not the truth. And like the truth, sometimes fiction is less stranger than... that truth... or whatever.
Anyway, back to the voices in my head.
The truth is that most of my ideas, the good ones anyway, come from voices I hear in my head.
Are you feeling slightly uncomfortable about that last statement?
(not about your mom... the other one)
Well you should, but not for the reasons you think.
Usually when I tell people that I hear voices I get stunned looks and slow, backward walks but the sad truth is that most people are either unwilling or incapable of connecting with their own inner voice that talks to them all the time.
This is why creatives are asked the same question from non-creatives over and over again.
"Where do your ideas come from?"
Responses like, "I get inspired by the world around me," or "I ask 'what if' questions," or "I think of a time when..." fall flat because they usually aren't true.
The creative knows it. They hear the voices. That's why they're creative.
The non-creative knows it too. They don't/won't listen to the voices. That's why they're non-creative.
So how can you become more creative?
By trusting the voice in your head.
Hopefully it's your own internal voice. But maybe it's not. Maybe it's ghosts or animal spirits.
Even if the voices aren't yours you should follow them. At the very least you'll be a lot more interesting.
Write, draw, paint, knit, latch hook, glue, bedazzle, and otherwise do whatever creative activities the voices tell you.
Just know this...
When you finally begin to listen to the voices you're very quickly going to shut them out again because a lot of what you create will be garbage. And that's okay!
You were garbage at walking when you were a toddler.
You were garbage at coloring when you got your first box of Crayons.
You are garbage at everything until you spend enough time being bad at it.
And then you'll be good at it.
And if you spend enough time being good at it, you get to be great at it.
There's a universal truth that creatives get past but non-creatives don't:
Creating something bad is still better than consuming something someone else made.
With a little practice and a little time some of what you create will be good, and that's great.
With a little more practice some of the things you create will be great, and that's fantastic because THOSE are the things you can then develop into something special.
I have another secret for you. That voice? It's been with you always. It's been whispering "what if" and "why not" and "kiss her/him" and "don't be so hard on yourself" your entire life.
You voice is your muse and your muse is you. So you should listen to it. Always.
Mine whispers to me to tell silly stories and draw silly pictures.
Yours is the one that's been cheering and applauding and shouting whenever you create something no matter what it is or how it turns out.
How do I know?
Because your mom told me. (wink)
But how do I really know?
Because that voice is the thing that led you here and, if you're willing to listen to it a little more it will take you where you've always wanted to go.
And don't listen to anyone or anything other than that voice... your voice...your muse...
...and of course, me.