yet another Shiny New Idea … set in the desert!

Shiny New Idea: a new idea for a creative project that takes root while you are in the middle of a work-in-progress, and doesn’t let go until you devote time and attention to it.

Sometimes it just hits you out of nowhere starts sweeping you away. It would whisper of tantalising characters and settings in your ear, keep you up at night with vivid scenes, and basically distract you from what you’re working on at the moment to steal your attention and enthusiasm. Write me, write me! it will scream, until you are no longer able to resist it and you put your WIP on hold to go work on the Shiny New Idea.

Nooooo! Bad writer. Finish your shit before you move on to the next book!

But … but it’s so pretty. Look how shiny!

NO. You are almost halfway through your WIP. Do NOT abandon it now.

But this is sooo much better! And exciting! And shiny!

You get the gist. So yes, I caved in eventually.

The Shiny New Idea I’ve been obsessing over for days was birthed from this book:

And this drama, Ballad of the Desert:

(It stars Eddie Peng, too – yummm)

These are typically not up my alley at all – I’m not a period-drama person, or big on novels set in exotic settings I know nothing about – but there’s something so alluring and unusual and fresh about the desert that allows for so many possibilities. I’m getting starry-eyed just thinking of it! *__*

The idea took root in my head before I even realised it. I began dreaming of a lone princess in the desert and found myself figuring out her story. I dreamed of a stranger with eyes like danger and skin the colour of sun-warmed sand.

I started seeking out “desert music” like this

I started scribbling ideas into my notebook and plotting the opening scenes.

I started creating characters and diving into their backstory.

I started doing research.


5 Things Googled for Land of Sand and Song (yes, the story has a title already):

1. Atlas Mountains

Credit: Educational Geography
Image from Wikipedia Creative Commons

The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range which stretches across northwestern Africa extending about 2,500 km (1,600 mi) through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert. The population of the Atlas Mountains is mainly Berbers.

 

2. Berbers

Credit: Samia Dib Benkaci

The Berbers or Amazighs are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa. The Berber identity is usually wider than language and ethnicity, and encompasses the entire history and geography of North Africa. Berbers are not an entirely homogeneous ethnicity and they encompass a range of phenotypes, societies and ancestries. The unifying forces for the Berber people may be their shared language, belonging to the Berber homeland, or a collective identification with the Berber heritage and history.

 

3. Numidia

Numidia (202 BC – 46 BC) was an Ancient Berber kingdom in what is now Algeria and a smaller part of Tunisia, in North Africa. Numidia was originally divided between Massylii in the east and Masaesyli in the west. During the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), Massinissa, king of the Massylii, defeated Syphax of the Masaesyli to unify Numidia into one kingdom.

The kingdom began as a sovereign state and later alternated between being a Roman province and a Roman client state. It was bordered by the kingdoms of Mauretania (modern-day Morocco) to the west, the Roman province of Africa (modern-day Tunisia) to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Sahara Desert to the south.

 

4. Mauretania

Mauretania (also spelled Mauritania) was in ancient times a part of North Africa corresponding to the Mediterranean coast of what is today Morocco.

Mauretania originally was an independent tribal Berber kingdom from about the 3rd century BC. It became a client state of theRoman empire in 33 BC, then a full Roman province after the death of its last king Ptolemy of Mauretania in AD 40.

 

5. River name etymologies

And we are just getting started.

BRB, getting lost in idea-land!

Oh, and if anyone has read that fantastic book or watched the show, I’d be happy to spaz over them with you. I am happily stuck in those worlds, and hope I never have to leave! :0)

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The Value of Dreams in a Numbers-Driven World

A friend and I caught up over coffee the other day, where we talked about how jaded we were doing work that wasn’t what we fully believed in or what fuelled our actual dreams, and how our creative efforts were being overshadowed by the demand for tangible returns.

Basically, in the corporate world everything comes down to profits. Revenue. Sales. Site traffic. Everything quantifiable in numbers, in other words. But what if you’re someone creating things that can’t or shouldn’t be quantified with numbers, how then do you measure success or worth?

Sometimes it seems like you just can’t win. That art will always come secondary to profits. What good is an ad or campaign if it’s not going to generate sales? What’s the point of an article if it doesn’t resonate with X number of people and they’re not sharing it on social media? We’re told that dreams are worthless until they can be realised, that our art is only as valuable as the amount of money it can be traded for. We start to internalise this yardstick and whip it out when deciding if what we’re creating is good enough.

And I think that’s the reason people give up on their creative dreams. Nobody sees the value in what they produce, so they think it’s pointless to pursue it.

But really:

It’s such a waste when people give up on their creative dreams because they think their dreams have no place in their environment or society they live in. My dad, for instance, gave up on art school because he thought it was more important to seek gainful employment to help the family. Till this day, he wonders how things might have worked out differently if he had studied design communication like he wanted to.

There is always a place for our art. For more art. And there are people out there who might actually need it, or at least enjoy it. I think as artists (I’m defining this word here as anyone with dreams of creation), we tend to forget that. We think that being in a numbers-driven world what we can offer is of little or no value, or that what we do will always be under-appreciated.

But as long as there is one person out there who believes in your art and your creation and your dreams, then it is your duty to keep producing work to sustain not just them but also – and more importantly – yourself.

This post by Laini Taylor bears re-sharing. Seriously, read it. It will change your life.

We artists are needy! We need constant reminders to keep fighting the good fight. It’s why most artists I know have motivational messages stuck all over their computer screens or walls

This is what’s on my wall.
Or occasionally turn to books like

And

To reignite that spark in themselves.

 

Sometimes, I think it might be easier if I were an analytical, logical ENTJ. But then I think, Nah, I wouldn’t give up my penchant to dream or any part of my creative life just so things would be easier. Being an INFP may be more complex, but it is also very rewarding.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need for numbers and weekly reports. They are the most straightforward way to assess the merit of a project, or track the performance and growth of a channel.

But the world also needs artists. People who dream. People who create. It’s the only way humanity can move forward. Sounds grandiose, but I do believe artists, innovators, creators and dreamers are the ones who ask the “right” questions. Not “how much”, but “what if” and “why”.

So if you’re asking those questions and constantly thinking of new ways to tell your stories – be it in a novel, a poem, a song, a dance, a painting, a photo, an ad, whatever – just remember that the world needs your stories, and you owe it to yourself to make your voice heard.

And if you think no one out there appreciates or cares about your art, for what it’s worth there’s always me, rooting for all the artists dreaming big and fighting to leave their fingerprints on the world.
So go forth and unleash your art, and guard it with your life!

How to Lead an Inspired, Creative Life

Some days, creativity can feel like an elusive creature always ducking out of our reach. And some days, we are just too burned out by the daily grind to pursue any creative endeavour.

What is creativity anyway? The textbook definition is “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something”. But I see it as finding ideas from life itself, then weaving them into a bigger dream and making that a reality.

And that’s why creativity can seem like such an illusory, abstract thing. It’s hard to turn new, imaginative ideas into reality if you can’t notice them around you because you’re too busy or tired. Creativity is something that requires passion, devotion, and ample space to explore and ruminate.

[Related Article: 8 Simple Ways to Start the Day Right]

So if you’re looking for new ways to be inspired and break out of your rut, here are some ideas:

 

1. Change Your Scenery

You can’t come up with new ideas by sitting at the same spot every day. Get up and head somewhere different from your regular hangouts. Maybe try a new cafe in another neighbourhood, a different outfit (maybe swap your Little Black Dress for flared jeans), or take a different route home from work. You’d be surprised how a change of scenery can improve your state of mind!

 

2. Get Those Endorphins Pumping

Deadlines, reports, figures. Those things can drive a person insane – believe me, I understand. It is also soul-sucking and draining to do it every day.

If you feel like your creative well is drying out and you’re itching to get back into the groove, clear your head of all those numbers and Excel documents and get moving. Even brisk-walking around your office building can help you re-calibrate. Exercise also helps to sharpen our minds, improve our productivity, and get the creative juices flowing again!

 

3. Break Out of Your Routine

Creativity can’t thrive in an environment that is stagnant and routine. So try new things, gain new experiences, and expose yourself to new situations. Do something outside of the routine you know – be it trying a new workout or picking up a new hobby – and break your habits.

 

4. Fight For Your Space and Time

Creativity needs its own time and space. It’s tempting to just go home and binge-watch Girls or go out for drinks with friends, but if you get too swept up in these activities that don’t support your creative ventures your creativity suffers. While you do need some down-time once in a while, creation only happens when you get cracking. So clear your work space and start creating!

 

5. Be Curious

Creating something from scratch can seem daunting, but not if you start with the questions “Why?” and “What if?” and let these guide you down uncharted paths. Curiosity is what drives any creative process, so have fun, start asking questions, and you might discover answers you never expected.

 

6. Jot It Down

Bring a pen and notebook everywhere with you. They’re handy enough to whip out whenever a thought strikes you. You never know when inspiration for your next feature film or book might hit you, and you don’t want to lose that thought because you weren’t fast enough to capture it!

 

7. Vary Your Companions

If you only hang out with people similar to you, you’ll share similar ideas and outlook. To be introduced to new perspectives and new ways of thinking, invite new people into your life who are different from you and have differing opinions. From them you can learn and discover new things that will help you grow as a person.

 

8. Head Out and Explore 

While holing up somewhere to create is crucial to getting anything done, you also need to get out and immerse in things that inspire you and feed your artistic soul. Take a day trip to the museum or art gallery, watch a play or recital, or go for long walks somewhere you haven’t yet explored.

 

9.  Have No Fear!

Are you a perfectionist? Get over that! There is no room for that in creation – at least, not at the start, when you are just exploring every Shiny New Idea. The fear of failure is something that plagues many artists. But you need to give yourself permission to suck, make mistakes, before anything good comes out of the mess.

10. And Finally, Ignore the Naysayers

Artists are subject to all kinds of criticism, especially from those who don’t see the value or worth in what they’re doing. But birds in a cage think flying is an illness. Don’t let yourself get boxed in by what other people think, or what they believe to be true or “correct”. What’s the status quo? Who decides? You have the power to create the life you want to lead without worrying about what the norm is. Normal is over-rated anyway.

Are you feeling burned out? What are some of your ways to get back into the creative state of mind and recapture your elusive creative genius?

 

This story first appeared on ZALORA Community. For more stories like this, head on over there!