A flying train

On developing a conditioned response

Hi everybody — here’s a beautiful video of a flying train in Wuppertal, Germany, from 1902. The video was originally shared by MoMa, and then upscaled and colorized by Denis Shiryaev. Of course this video is a creative prompt in itself (and you’re welcome to use it as one), though that’s not why I’m sharing it here.

For me, the video is one part soothing, one part creatively inspiring, and I often have it playing in the background while I’m writing about something completely unrelated (like, oh, I don’t know, being alone in a cabin in the woods). The video activates a conditioned response in me, ushering me into the right headspace to begin writing.

I have a writing playlist that does something similar — it’s a hodgepodge of songs that I love, and that make me want to be creative. The songs are not ambient, and they generally do have vocals — but I’ve listened to them so many times that I don’t find them distracting. It’s a lot of Sufjan Stevens, Andy Shauf, Michael Kiwanuka, Aldous Harding. At this point, I put on the playlist, and I begin writing — another conditioned response. (Oh what the hell, here it is.)

I could go on and on about the strange and very particular conditions that I’ve created to activate a creative response, but suffice to say, I’d encourage you to try and build your own.

And don’t forget to respond to the latest prompt, the next one drops in ~35 hours.

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