What sorts of things help you be creative? Music, artwork, or certain films?
Books more than anything. Nonfiction books give me fiction ideas, novels give me nonfiction ideas, and so it goes, often without any apparent logic. Usually my ideas seem to bear no resemblance to the reading that inspired them. What I love about research isn’t just what I learn, but how what I learn triggers things in my imagination that have never before been aroused in that way. That’s the creative process, and it’s fun to see what God brings out of it.
Sometimes I prefer listening to music when I write, sometimes silence. Music was a big part of my writing the Heaven book. When I met Chris Tomlin at an event I was speaking at last year I told him that his Arriving album, with “Indescribable” and all those other incredible songs, was in the background daily as I wrote that book. My friend John Elliot, a classical pianist, has also provided much mood music for my writing. Instrumental music is great because there are no words to distract you. I have some CDs of scores of major movies, which I enjoy. When I want to hear words, I listen to the music of Sovereign Grace Ministries, powerful lyrics artfully performed. See http://www.sovereigngracemusic.org/I know and love many of the people who write and perform and lead these songs in Sovereign Grace churches around the country and in various parts of the world.
As for art, Ron DiCianni’s painting in the front of my book Safely Home hung in my office as I wrote the book. It still does. My children’s/family book, which came out last summer, Tell Me About Heaven, has eleven paintings by Ron, eight of them brand new just for that book. They are stunning.
I had the privilege of telling Ron what I wanted to say in the story, and discussing with him what kind of art would best fit. He did a magnificent job. He would send me scans of his preliminary sketches, and by the time we got to his final art it blew me away. Artistic gifts like his are amazing. It makes me worship the Creator who is the Fountainhead of all the lesser streams of greatness, creativity and art.