Liz really believed in love – before each marriage she told
From the logical to the downright odd – some are worth a try, some best avoided! Here are some of the more unusual methods of firing up creative ideas.
#1 Lock up your clothes: To make himself stay in and finish his novel the writer Victor Hugo locked away his clothes. He saw it as the only way to avoid temptation to avoid writing. His wife Adele reported that he bought a bottle of ink and huge grey shawl and locked his clothes up. It worked, but it wasn’t fun. His wife later said that: “he entered his novel as if it were a prison. He was very sad.”
#2 Canine advice: Wagner claimed his Spaniel Peps helped him write Tannhauser. If Peps howled Wagner reported he would say “What? It does not suit?” and shake Pep’s paw. Freud used his Jofi his Chow-Chow dog in psychoanalytic sessions as a lie-detector, telling patients: “Jofi does not approve of what you are saying.”
#3 Mind mapping: Leonardo da Vinci used this now common visual trick. Even earlier, the 3rd Century philosopher Porphyry used a version of this type of creativity trigger in a ‘tree’ map to show relationships.
#4 Sleep deprivation: Thomas Edison favored sleep-deprivation, calling sleep: “a loss of time, vitality, and opportunities.” He got by on 3 hours a night.
#5 Slimming Pills: Ayn Rand used Benzedrine and Dexedrine heavily and daily for decades. It may have sped up her work, but a friend wrote: “Stop taking that benzedrine, you idiot. I don’t care what excuse you have — stop it.”
#6 Head-stands – Composer Igor Stravinsky began each day with a head-stand. In 1948 William King reported Stravinsky’s reasoning: “a brief head stand rests the head and clears the brain.”
#7 Coffee: Writer Balzac drank 50 cups a day, writing: “Coffee is a great power in my life; I have observed its effects on an epic scale.”
#8 Amphetamines: Jean-Paul Sartre used Corydrane, a mix of amphetamine and aspirin. His lover Simone de Beauvoir said that ‘a tube of corydrane’ meant his ideas could be analysed in two days. Pretty unsurprising as the dose was 1-2 tablets but Sartre took 20 a day!
#9 Rotten Apples: Poet Friedrich Schiller kept a drawer full of rotten apples. Somehow the stink inspired him; his wife said he: “could not live or work without it.”
#10 Cutlery tricks: Salvador Dali put a tin plate on the floor and sat holding a spoon, so that as he fell asleep the spoon would fall and wake him so he could record his dreams.
# 11 Sing in the shower: In his book ‘Beethoven As I Knew Him’ Anton Schindler reported that Beethoven got inspired by pouring large pitchers of water over his hands and singing. He called these moments of deep creative meditation.