Every effort begins somewhere, from some idea, some element of work. The vision of this prompt is to build your own collection of elements that you can apply and combine with others, sometimes more than once.
It’s important to keep these departure points as small as possible. These days, we are blessed with technology that can store and organize all of our departure points.
For example, even though I’d written hundreds of articles in my 20s, many of the ideas—points, stats, and quotes—embedded in them were too interlinked and dense for me to move around and re-use in new ones. My solution to that was to extract the ideas and put them into index cards and Notion for my Zettelkasten note-taking system, which I learned from How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens. Each stat would get its own separate index card.
It’s possible to do this with other forms as well. If you’re in the recording arts, you can separately save different elements of songs for easy access. If you’re in visual arts, you can work digitally and do the same by saving elements in different layers or files altogether. Be descriptive in your filename so you know what to search later. I’d highly encourage you to take even just a few minutes to set up a simple system for staying organized.
This can also be as simple as starting a project with a banker’s box—a literal cardboard box—and keeping everything related in there like choreographer and author Twyla Tharp does. Or it could mean setting an hour every Monday to review your notes in your journal and phone.
Combining and connecting are key parts of any creative process. As you go through these departure points, and your mind soaks them in, you’ll notice that new ideas and connections start to emerge.