Thursday, November 19, 2009

Being Creative NOW; or What Are We Waiting For?

Wil Wheaton* had an excellent post on his blog this week titled, "Get Excited and Make Things!" If you consider yourself a creative person at all (and why would you be here if you don't?), you really should go read it. Yes, now. I'll wait.

You back? Okay.

Anyway, it really got me to thinking about just how easy it is to be creative in the first decade of the twenty-first century. As pre-published authors, we have access to resources our predecessors could only have dreamed of. Let's start with the computer you're using to read this, and the internet connection that delivered it to you. But that's just the beginning. Stuck on a research point? Open an new Google tab in your browser window, type in a few key terms, and whoosh! Need to get a feel for your location? Google Street View. Don't know the names for the various parts of an airship? Wikipedia! And -- the bit that amazes me most of all -- you can do all of this on a laptop with no physical connection to anything.

Know what I did last night? I decided I needed to create a map of a college campus for my WIP. So I went to Google and called up a map of Oxford, England. No, not just a map. A satellite view. And I found a spot where I could squeeze in my imaginary campus (it's on Longwall street, back between Magdalen College and Holywell Cemetery, with the canal there as the eastern border). I took a screen shot of this spot, pasted it into Paint, and -- using the satellite views of other campuses in the area for inspiration -- drew my campus map on top of it. Voila! One Royal Academy of Science, to order. Even geekier? I can link you to the base map that I used, and if I'd thought of it last night, I could have uploaded the final map to Flickr and linked to it here. (I may come back and do that tonight from home, so check back!)

[Aha! And I did. Here is my map of the Royal Academy of Science!]


Things like this boggle my mind. Even as little as ten years ago, I would not have been able to do something like this, or at least not as quickly and easily. I might have been able to come up with a street-level map of Oxford, but not one that would show the buildings and the detail I needed to get a feel for what a college campus in Oxford would look like. I could have made a black and white photocopy of the map and drawn on it by hand. I might have even been able to scan it in to the computer and used Paint like I did last night. But sharing it with my friends would have involved more steps, and taken a lot longer. (Ten years ago, I was still using a dial-up connection, after all.)

The point is, it's easier than ever to be creative. The only difference, as far as I can tell, between people who create and people who do not is simply motivation.

So what kinds of projects -- writing or otherwise -- are people working on? What motivation do you need in order to make them happen?

*Yes, I'm a geek. I read Wil Wheaton's blog. And I admit it. In public. So there.


Samantha said...

Nothing wrong with reading Wil's blog. I read it, download his podcasts and had my picture taken with him at Emerald City ComicCon in the spring. I have the picture of him and my husband at my desk.

Sheila said...

Wil seems like a great guy, one I'd like to hang out with in RL. I remember your story about meeting him, and that he was cool.