My Creative Process: Working with Ideas


working with ideas

By Sarah Walsh

Independent film maker and illustrator from Galway Ireland who loves the art of storytelling

My Creative Process

I hope that by sharing my creative process I can inspire others in working with ideas.


I’m the type of person who feels like when they have a good idea I have to stick with it. As soon as I have an idea I immediately grab a pen and paper and scribble down anything that comes to mind. I look towards film and tv and if I hear a line of dialogue that catches my attention I unlock my phone and write it down to come back and reference later. My Facebook page and my phone are constantly full with new notes and saved videos. I find Vimeo a really great site to source new videos. Their Staff Picks are one of the main pages I click on to on a daily basis. I feel not only does it show a crazy amount of wonderful work but it also gives a platform to independent artists. I then throw on my spotify playlist or my record player and listen to the music that best suits the part of the film I am doing research for.

Ask for Opinions

When I have my idea I try to think of the story all the way through to the end in my head. I picture the visuals and how the sound will go and see the colours that I will be using. I then write down the idea in bullet points and read over them countless times to see where the gaps are or where I can add some new information. I then ask my family and friends to read over the latest draft of bullet points and see if they understand what I am trying to convey. If they get the general idea then I know I am on the right page. I then leave the bullet points for a while and start to create very rough concept, jotting down the colour palettes and quick scribbles of the environment I am going to be using. Once I have an idea of how it will look I go back to the bullet points. I read over them once more to refresh my mind and then I go back to my friends and family and speak to them about the film. I feel like if I stutter in any way or if I find myself making things up on the spot that doesn’t necessarily help the story I know it’s not ready to work with.

Make Time For Ideas

I find working in the animation industry a challenge when it comes to working on my personal work. For the first year I found it really difficult to find the time for it and got caught in many creative blocks. It wasn’t easy to break through that but I found that pushing myself even with just mundane ideas got my creative juices flowing again. I found becoming part of online art blogs and creating illustration pieces for friends and family really helped me to develop my own style and forced me to push myself into creating new ideas. I do however, find that working in the industry has helped me to be not so precious about my work. If an idea didn’t go according to plan I don’t let it affect me as much as I would have when I was in college. I look over the idea see why it didn’t work and then either try to fix it or move on from it.

Have Fun

My advice I often try to live by is try to re-shape your ideas if they are not working, doodle doodle and doodle. Listen to as much music as you can, soak in as much information and also remember to have a life. Go out and experience new things, try to feel what your character will feel and take as many photos of the environment around you and most importantly have fun with it. If you are not enjoying making your film find out why and change it. You don’t want to be stuck making a film for months when you aren’t enjoying it, you will never finish it and if you do, you will probably won’t have fond memories of it.