David Lynch muses on inspiration

In 2008, filmmaker David Lynch was interviewed by the Atlantic, where he “mused about inspiration, [idea generation], and how to capture the flow of creativity.” Recently, Lynch’s interview was animated as part of the magazines animated originals series. Clocking in at a brief 2:33, the video is well worth a gander, or even two, or three (you can see a longer version of the interview, without animation, here).

Catching vs. Creating Where do ideas come from?

Lynch, comparing idea generation to catching fish, observes, “you don’t make the fish, you catch the fish.” He goes on to describe where you might find some ideas.

“you can catch ideas from daydreaming or you can catch ideas from places. If you think maybe a place can conjure ideas, then you have to go out of the house and go traveling…you can be going down the street and see a little reflection in the pool on the gutter and bang, an idea will come. Who knows how it happens?”

The ideas that do come, might not always be clear or fully formed, or complete.

“It’s like there’s a man in another room with the whole film together but they are in puzzle parts and he’s flipping one piece at a time into me, and at first it’s very abstract. I don’t have a clue. More pieces come. More ideas are caught. It start’s forming a thing. And then one day, there it is.”

It is probably safe to assume that David Lynch has never heard about The Quest, thus he hasn’t embarked on one, but his musings on idea generation and the iterative nature of them, are very Quest like. While everyone’s experience of the Quest is different, in many instances, going on a Quest and learning to approach the world with an improvisational mindset can be like being given a fishing pole.  It can make it easier to catch one of those “zillions of ideas that are ready to be caught.”

Be happy in the doing

In the action-packed interview, Lynch also takes aim at one of the common ideas about the creative process, that all great art requires suffering. Lynch counters, “happiness in the doing is so important…it’s our life going by.”

So be happy in the doing, go on a mini-Quest, go outside or just stay inside and daydream or do both, just go catch some ideas.