Sep 10, 2012 | Better Writing

In 1939, music critic, Rosamund E. M. Harding, wrote a marvelous little book, An Anatomy of Inspiration. I discovered it through the Brainpickings site. Here’s a quote from the book. The italics are in the original.

“Originality depends on new and striking combinations of ideas. It is obvious therefore that the more a man knows the greater scope he has for arriving at striking combinations. And not only the more he knows about his own subject but the more he knows beyond it of other subjects

Farmers like to talk about “inputs.” They’re “The resources that are used in farm production, such as chemicals, equipment, feed, seed, and energy.” Writers have inputs, too.

That’s what Harding was writing about. If you want to be creative, if you want to write well, you need to pay attention to your inputs. In your case, they’re facts, insights, explanations, people, web sites, and anything else that will help you make creative connections.

Harding’s key point is that you need to cast your mental net beyond the narrow field of your specialty. Read widely. Set aside bits of time to explore the web. As your brain makes connections follow where they lead.

Creativity is connecting ideas, insights, and information. The more you have, the more connections you can make.