The Operating System and Liminal Lab


[This is part 6 in our ongoing Fuck the Muse mini-series, click the link for previous entries if you wish to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start)]
It’s always useful to remember where you are in the overall creative process. Here’s a refresher:

  1. Define the Seed: What’s the idea, question, or hypothesis?
  2. Explore: Reasearch, gather, and create the materials.
  3. Organize: Outline the structure, or impose one.
  4. Draft: Compile a complete first draft.
  5. Revise: Consider, critique, and edit as needed.

We’re still following up on Step 2, which we started earlier by compiling our curiosity shopping lists. We need to push out from our seed in every direction, and the list is there to help guide us.
Now it’s time to go shopping.

Surround Yourself with Material
It’s time to get your hoarding on.

The goal of this phase is to collect all the material you might possibly need to create your piece. It doesn’t matter what genre or medium you will use at the end, right now you want everything. You are building your shitty pile of shit that will get organized into a draft down the road.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
— Mark Twain

You need to fill your head (and your notebook) with possibilities. You need to start understanding the world you are creating — not by thinking about it, but by surrounding yourself with it. Your creative mind works by copying, transforming, & combining — so the more ideas you put into your head, the more you can get out when it’s time.

Research » Steal » Create

The first instinct of most artists is to sit down with a blank paper and stare at it until the muse strikes. Fuck the muse. Start with material that already exists. Use your shopping list as a guide and follow your curiosity. Explore your list of “things that will inspire you” — use Wikipedia and Google to follow one hyperlinked thought to the next, and add more inspirations to your list.
When you read/see/hear something you like, take it. Clip it out of an article, take a photo, make a playlist, or just take notes. When ideas start to merge and you are inspired to say something, then say it.

 Cut it up. You can put it back together later.

Ebb and flow with the cycles of research, theft, and creation. Let your inspiration drive you back and forth between exploring what’s there, and creating what isn’t. If research isn’t working, make shit up. If you can’t think of anything to make, find something to steal.

For Example

Following up on my list from last week, I spent time reading about Hermaphroditus & Mother Clapp. I started to see patterns around social gatherings, betrayal, and water. I copied and pasted large sections of pro-anorexia websites, wrote down important lines from Lou Reed songs, and wrote about my own memories of body and sexual experience. I even pulled from old email conversations that seemed relevant.
I used NaNoWriMo to get through this phase with a massive pile of 50,000 shitty words, along with a number of images and songs. Some are stolen, and some are my own, but all of them will be useful when I come back to start drafting.

Checking it Twice

Look back at your list. focus on researching the “things that will inspire you,” and stealing or creating the “things that need to be gathered” so you can cross them off your list. Add to the list if you realize something is missing, but focus on exploring each item in extreme detail, and following where it takes you.
There are several interesting tools you can use to help push you along when you get stuck — both as a solo artist and in collaborative settings. I’ll go into more detail on some of those next week.
What point of your creative cycle do you find yourself at? Whether you’re stuck, flying high, or not even thinking of yourself as an “artist” of any medium, Miriam Suzanne’s FUCK THE MUSE creativity catalyst should do the trick — helping you simultaneously appreciate your process more AND take yourself (and the work) less seriously.
The Operating System loves Miriam Suzanne and thinks you are getting a pretty terrific deal for the grand total of ZERO DOLLARS!!!
previously in this series:
Lesson 5: Get Curious
Lesson 4 : Starting from a Seed
Lesson 3 : Creative Modes and Cycles
Lesson 2, Ordinary Tools of Thought
Lesson 1, The Art of Control (and Class Overview)
Or, start from the very beginning (a very good place to start) and familiarize yourself with Suzanne’s unique, inspired perspective and approach in our series introduction, and if you decide you want to participate more actively with Miriam and/or share your responses with our larger community, please email the staff at
Fuck it, be yourself.

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