Published: Nov 21, 2016 12:00:00 PM

dr-strange.gifThe action wherein a maple tree is set up to produce syrup is called "tapping." Interconected tubes run together, usually downhill to get a hand from gravity, leading to a collecting tank. Hundreds of gallons of maple sap is required to boil down into maple syrup.

Are you struggling to approach a creative task? Imagine how many trees inside your mind are required to fuel true creativity.

Your brain constitutes an entire experiental shared universe of thought. To achieve a higher creative plane, you need to learn to tap your memory. 

\\\ Always begin with "why."

Whether you're Seth Godin or John Lasseter, ultra-conscious minds set their roots around the richest question: "why?"

Before you set out to create a high school science fair presentation, an email to your boss justifying a promotion, or your garage band's first chord, engage the reason for being. Engage your "why?"

Why you? Why you, specifically? Why shouldn't it be somebody else? Why is this creative endeavor what you want to deliver? It's okay if you can't immediately answer. You may discover the why through this orientation process. Start with the question though.

Without it, you risk copycatting. Again, copycatting is often its own self-discovery process. Every human mimicking a parent's singsongy lullaby is a copycat. But then you turn your life into something new, special, and unique. Why? Because your accrued knowledge is a customized galaxy spinning new light.

Beginning with "why" resurfaces why your slant on this creative undertaking is going to be different. Go back into your memory. Imagine a forest. Imagine all the trees are connected by slender blue tubes. Each tree is a memory, an experience, an influence. Combined together, dripping their sap, they're all feeding downhill to a big bucket. This is your shared universe of memory.

This technique aided me as I realized all of my original fiction was connected by a shared universe.

Now stare into bucket. It's raw memory. Before you begin synthesizing it, ask why you're cooking all your history into something.

\\ Understand your influences to create originality.

diffused-resized-600-675813-edited.pngHello, darling. Ready to continue this metaphor?

The way you speak. The way you imagine sound's movement. The way you communicate your heart to the surrounding world. The way you transfer thought to form. Each of these dwells within a memory, within one of your trees. The moment your memory concerning speech meets the sap from the memory concerning a time you watched frost melt from a taxi cab's window, the gathered color tints.

What color are your memories? Can you identify them? Can you recognize you've grown up reading mystery novels or comic books? Do you notice you've spent time enjoying heavy metal?

What about your fears? Who are you afraid of? Why has this influenced you? If you're creating a story, there are threats and conflicts in your shared universe's darker parts. Notice them. Understand them and their sway over you.

And if these memories, these influences, these trees are all rooted on the same hillside, discover the soil that holds them all in place. This feeds up into each thirsty branch and bud. This is elemental to who you are and what you could create.

Now take those parts, those memories, and boil them.

\ Boil the sea.

The bucket housing the collected sap is mostly water. With heat and effort, it'll sweeten. The more you put in, the more creativity you can produce, that's a rule. However, you won't know the final product until you test it a few times.

It's time to boil the collected sap. Most of the excess liquid will vaporize. This is what reveals your final product. It's hard to estimate what all this collected memory will add up to until you put fire to it. Get used to this. You can't guess what all your memory and creativity will add up to until you go through the effort to synthesize.

After boiling the sea, reflect on the created product. How's it taste? How do others like it? You'll need to see if they notice flavors you didn't expect. You may need to plant more trees to change the influence. You may need to replace the machinery.

You may need to cut off certain memories and influences, recognizing they are no good for what you're trying to create.

And indulge.

-- Alex Crumb
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