“To be realistic one must always admit the influence of those who have gone before.”
- Charles Eames
All art builds upon or subtracts from that which came before it.
For example, Beethoven’s early works were inspired by Mozart, Dali was influenced by the works of Raphael and Vermeer, and the filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky has had such an influence on the work of Dutch filmmaker Lars von Trier that a large amount of scenes in the latter’s films are almost identical in composition to those of his predecessor, as can be seen in the following video:
Part of being a creative involves finding the parts of others’ work that inspire you and filling in the rest with your own work and vision.
7-7-7 is a simple writing exercise in which you explicitly takes someone else’s work and use it as a starting point for your own work to see where it leads you.
Find the seventh book on your bookshelf, open it to page seven and look at the seventh sentence on the page.* Try and begin a poem that begins with that sentence.
If you like, you could even limit the amount of lines in your poem to seven.
For a variation on this exercise, you could use the sentence as the first line to a new story (you don’t need to write it out, just try and continue the story in your head as much as you can).
There are other variations that you can come up with if you don’t have a book at hand. Try using the Random Article link on Wikipedia and see where it leads you. In this case you’d use the seventh sentence of the article.
For yet another variation, if the page opens to a photograph, try creating a series of photographs based on the one you see, trying to recreate that photograph as closely as possible.
*If you don’t have seven books on your bookshelf, just pick up the first book you can find.