A basic principle regarding ideas and creativity is that every new idea is a connection of two or more old ideas. It’s not the parts that are new, but the connection, the glue, the path or even the bridge.
This gives that coming up with new ideas is a matter of coming up with new connections. This is a simple, banal insight, yet I believe profound – I find that it opens up for limitless possibilities. It also frees you from the difficulty in coming up with something new – you just need to come up with a new connection. I find that perspective both fun and liberating.
A technique presented by Jeff Tweedy is to pick ten interesting nouns and ten interesting verbs and then build interesting sentences by connecting them. This can lead to a lot of nonsens, but also poetic images that can convey or hint at meaning you’re not sure of yourself.
Today, I made a variation on this. I selected a list of random, interesting words and forced myself to tell my story through them. Since these weren’t words I would usually reach for to describe the events/places/memories it forced me to look for alternative, metaphorical meanings.
As always, 90 percent of everything is crap. But if you do the work and write ten times as many words than you need for a song, you might gather a full song of something decent or even interesting.