Where do you find inspiration? What makes you want to sit down and tell a story?
This past weekend I attended Sakuracon, a Japanese-culture convention in Seattle mainly but not exclusively dedicated to anime and manga. Although I’ve been a bit out of touch lately with the Japanese pop-culture meta-fandom, I still found parts of the convention to be very inspiring, particularly as a storyteller.
The greatest inspiration came from the AMVs (or anime music videos) I saw. An AMV is a fan creation that marries a song to a collection of clips from one or more video sources (usually but not always anime).
I don’t know about you, but music alone can be very inspiring to me. Sometimes I hear a song and I get a great swelling of emotion and thought and some story element pops suddenly into my mind, even if I’ve heard the song hundreds of times before.
What’s that got to do with AMVs at Sakuracon?
Sitting in the AMV room at Sakuracon (or, I imagine, any anime-related convention) exposes you to a lot of music and animation (both of varying quality), at least some of which you’ve inevitably never heard or seen before. Every few minutes there’s an entirely new mix of sound and images, and your mind is under a constant barrage of creative energy—the song, the animation, and the mixture of the two. For a storyteller (or any creative person, really), the combination of disparate pieces can really excite the imagination.
Neil Gaiman once said the secret to this creativity is combining two things that have never been combined before, and although I’d like to talk more about that someday for now I can tie it in with this topic. While it’s definitely possible to find inspiration in the work of one creator, I would encourage you to find places where the creative endeavors of multiple people come together to create something entirely new. If AMVs aren’t your thing, I understand that similar things exist for non-anime shows, like live-action television programs. If that interests you more then you should hunt those down instead.
Ultimately, what I’m getting at with all this is that you can find inspiration in a lot of different places, some familiar and some not; some created by a single effort and some a combination of multiple creators. The most important thing is to keep looking for inspiration and to remember to act on it when you find it!