The Most Powerful Question You'll Ask Today
What all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it's seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question "What if?" "What if" is always the key question.
Stephen King - Author
Science has proved again and again, that the greatest thing we can do when we want to add some creativity to whatever it is we are doing is to ask the question "what if"...
As Stephen alludes to above when we ask this question we are asking our brain to put together 2 or more things we already know and come up with a different way of using them. Effectively a combination of things creating a whole new one. The nice thing about this type of thinking is that it takes the pressure off. You don’t need to come up with a completely new idea. Mark Twain spoke about this type of thinking as well he said..
There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.
Mark Twain - Author
I love thinking about "what if" that way. We take everything we know about a situation, or thing, or even a piece of work, and we throw it all in a big mixer and ask "what if". What if I took this piece of script from here and put it here? Or what if I used this effect on voice-over instead of music (or the reverse)? What if I didn't use music at all? Or what if could I sell this message if I didn't use a voice-over?
It even works with creative writing, given his quote I used at the beginning of this article,
you would have to think that when he was writing "The Green Mile" Stephen King asked himself "What if a man who is purely and completely good is put on Death Row and executed?". He may have also asked himself "What if this book wasn't just ONE book? What if it was a series of books?".
Now amongst all this, you have to remember that not everything that comes out of the creative mixer is going to be another "Green Mile". In fact, a great question for Stephen would be "how many ideas do you throw out before you had the good ones?". And that's the trick to this, recognizing what is the GOLD, and what deserves to never see the light of day. Those are questions that I can't answer with this article, but ones that you need to tackle as a part of this creative process..
To institute this technique, train yourself to ask what-if questions on a regular basis. Even better, combine asking "What If" questions with other creativity tips I've shared. Like the ones in my article on writing more creatively. Ask “what-if” while you’re washing the dishes, or just before you fall asleep. But keep in mind, when your unconscious mind begins answering this question, it will likely come as a whisper. So be ready and listen carefully.
Darren "Robbo" Robertson is a freelance audio engineer and radio imaging producer. He is available for all types of audio work from podcast conceptualization and production, to audio post-production, and scriptwriting. To find out more about his services see the Voodoo Sound website.