Random Inspiration

Random Inspiration

by Rasmus Rasmussen on February 1, 2011

When I was around 9 years old, my dad bought me a choose-your-own-adventure book. One of those where you read up to a certain point, then choose which way the story goes next, and every so often you may have to roll some dice and fight a monster. This book started a fascination that to this day is a recurring source of inspiration to me: the random element.

Over the years, I have found that a certain amount of randomness and unpredictability is pure magic to my creative process. I love shooting portrait photography because I never know exactly what my subject will do in front of the camera, and what might come out of it.

In my writing, I have used random elements for years. Back in 2000, I attended a 6 month long creative writing class, and almost every day would start with some kind of writing prompt. When the class ended, I found myself missing these daily challenges and so I decided to solve this by creating a writing prompt generator. I taught myself enough programming that I could pull it off (working alongside actual programmers was a big help), and the utility WriteThis was born. I put it online, giving it away and it has since been downloaded thousands of times.

When I switched to Mac, WriteThis was no longer of any use to me (PC only), and ever since I have been wanting some kind of replacement. And now I have one – this time in the shape of an iPhone/iPod Touch app with the name WriMuse. With the touch of a button it gives me a writing prompt and if I like it, I can save it for later. Read more about it on its dedicated page or in the iTunes store.

The book my dad bought me also turned me into an avid gaming fan. One game I still enjoy today is Dungeons & Dragons. This is a game where players frequently need to think up things like character and location names and countless other details, much like a writer does. To help with this, I created a number of random gaming generators and put them online.

All these tools have been a huge help for me, and even though I made them, the results they produce continue to surprise.

The thing that gets me going about randomness is namely surprise, which forces me to think on my toes. By presenting me with keywords and outlines in sometimes strange combinations, my brain automatically begins to string it all together into something that makes sense. In other words, it triggers my imagination. Often I don’t even use the prompt I was given, just the inspiration gained from it.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Trudy February 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm

How true, “I have found that a certain amount of randomness and unpredictability is pure magic to my creative process.” I agree. Magic can’t be planned. And that mix makes for something magically when combined with a plan, process etc.

The WriMuse app sounds really clever.

Great post.


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