Film & TV

Catching Ideas

David Lynch

Lesson time 18:36 min

For David, ideas are everything. Learn how to draw from your intuition and life experience to unlock powerful sources of creative inspiration.

David Lynch
Teaches Creativity and Film
David Lynch teaches his unconventional process for translating visionary ideas into film and other art forms.
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Connect with your creativity

An avant-garde figure in filmmaking, David Lynch introduced mainstream audiences to art-house films. Now the Oscar-nominated director of Mulholland Drive teaches his cross-disciplinary creative process. Learn how he catches ideas, translates them into a narrative, and moves beyond formulaic storytelling. Embrace the art life in David’s MasterClass and learn to test the boundaries of your own artistic expression in any medium.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Amazing. Truly inspiring. Great advice on unlocking creativity and unleashing your ideas.

David is great. Lots of wonderful bits of information to help guide your own creativity.

Excellent to bring the talk about the meditation very helpful !

How can you not love this man? He's looking for his truth and seeking the highest truth in his art. That is a most honorable pursuit.


Debby V.

Very interesting part on intuition. I feel like intuition has been stigmatized to a "women's thing" but I think everyone does have it and it has been a big part of my life. That it can help the idea process was very illuminating.

Ben W.

Great lesson. Deep and insightful. A lot covered here.... His first statement "Ideas are Everything" calls to mind something in R. L. Stine's Masterclass, that Stine writes from a Title. He discovers an Idea, puts it into a Title, and starts writing. Lynch seems to resonate with that approach. And with Stine, it's the title that holds, enables him to recall, all that is inherent in the idea. I particularly picked up on Lynch's insistence to "write the ideas down". How often I've had an idea, one that I thought was so good that I couldn't possibly forget it, and then more of life happened and I couldn't recall the idea that I had, at least not in the details, and in part or altogether it was gone. Write it down. Have a systematic and convenient, on hand way to write it down. Do it.

A fellow student

It is inspiring to hear David speak on intuition. I really like the idea of being able to expand my own capacity for consciousness and intuition as a fundamental tool for creativity. I also like his take on how ideas work. Treating ideas as individual entities that require space and time to evolve is comforting to me. It removes the pressure I place on myself to only pursue the ideas I catch that I perceive to be more fully formed. I like that David reminds us that our own creative faculties are available to us if we make an effort to mine them. It seems like obvious advice on the surface due to its simplicity but it is an excellent reminder. The same goes for his comments on negativity, I like the value he places on recognizing and rejecting negative thoughts.

Andy P.

When I was living in New Haven Connecticut, working as a "Manny". Mr. Lynch came to talk to the MFA sculpture students whom where all really interested in video art at the time. Mr. Lynch just spoke about Transcendental Meditation and didn't speak of his films or creative process. It made me really happy.

Andy P.

I thought he might just talk about TM the whole time which would be interesting. I feel good I am taking this course, his process straightforward and strong.


Apparently David Lynch is my soulmate. He is speaking my language like I've never heard anyone do. I think that for me, sometimes the "bait" is a prompt, or an assignment or any reason an idea is needed. Then I open myself up, and wait with excitement for the universe, my creative soul, whatever it is that's not my thinking mind - to start filling me with ideas. It's the most delicious kind of game. Also - trust that they'll come. If I'm stuck sometimes I meditate to get out of my own way.

Mia S.

"As far as people thinking, 'Well I don't have anything to say,' maybe you don't. But on the other hand, that might be the wrong way to look at it. What might be better is to just daydream and catch some things that start a flow of ideas, just to see if a story comes that you like. And more ideas can come, and there might be something that you find inside that you really love. And then you say, 'Oh wait a minute, I do have something to say, I could say this thing that came to me.' So it goes like that. Having time - which is so difficult in today's world - having time to daydream, to sit by yourself and daydream, it's really important for catching ideas and going over things, just daydreaming. From the outside it looks like, maybe you should take this person not necessarily to a hospital but to maybe a psychiatrist, or tell him to get a job. But it's real important - looks like you're doing nothing, but what you're doing is so important for catching ideas, to have that time to sink into daydreaming, because it can go deeper and deeper and you can catch things that you can't catch in any other way. As I said, in this world today, people don't have a lot of time to daydream. But that's where - one place where it can happen; but it could also happen at any moment, doing anything. Because in the back of your mind you've got that desire; you just keep that desire going, you can catch ideas. These fish can be flying fish - they don't need water, they fly right to you. What scares fish away - or makes it more difficult - is stress, depression, sorrow, anxieties, tension, traumatic stress, hate, anger, and fear. All these things are in the family of negativity, and they restrict a lot of things. They restrict happiness, sleep, you get fatigued, fatigue is not good for catching ideas. And they, like I say, squeeze the tube through which the ideas flow - they cloud the mind, all these things. So give yourself a chance to get those ideas, and at the same time, bring all these positive things along with them - things that you're going to need, like energy, awareness, understanding. It's real important."

Mia S.

"Many things from our childhoods stick with us, from our world, our friends, experiences, feelings, dreams. All these things go into the hopper and they swim around, and all these new things come in and they swim around. If you have time to daydream, they can conjure some things. It's a very beautiful story; everybody has these things swimming about, and the possibility is there that they can trigger ideas. Everyone's hopper is pretty full and they say that the window to the hopper is wide open when we're growing up taking in all these things, and for safety's sake, that window starts closing at a certain point, and you start working with what you've got in there. There's a story, when I lived in Boise, Idaho on Park Circle Drive, one night (I think it was around 9:30); you know, in the '50s, in small towns, there were street lights but they were dimmer than the lights of today, and it was near a streetlight near a street called Shoshone Avenue, and across the way (I was with my younger brother) out of the darkness came a woman, completely naked, and she had skin the color of milk and she wasn't walking quite properly. I didn't understand exactly what was wrong and there might have been some blood on her mouth; she was pretty much oblivious to me and my brother as she came out of the darkness and walked and sat down on a curb. I'd never seen an adult woman naked, and it was quite a powerful experience; and I knew that she was hurt, in trouble, and I wanted to help her but I didn't know what to do. It's not every day you see a battered, nude woman come out of the bushes, but these kind of things happen. And then in this story, this happened: (clip from Blue Velvet)."

Mia S.

"A lot of ideas come from our world and our world holds a lot of violence - violence in the homes, on the streets, in the city, in the country, in all the countries - a lot of violence, a lot of corruption, suffering, tension, anger, hate, fear; a lot of mistakes. Prisons are full, hospitals are full - it's a mess. And it doesn't have to be this way, but it is the way it is, and ideas come from our world; stories emerge from our world, and stories involve things that are in the world. I always say, 'Have the suffering and the violence and all the things of human nature (negative and positive) in the script, the film, this book, but not in your life, and that you don't have to suffer to show suffering on the screen or in a book. You can be very happy showing suffering, and that's the key to things. Stories - all through time - have had conflict and all these different things, but the ideas come from the world; they come from other places, it seems, also, but a lot come from just our world and the feeling of being in this world conjures these stories that come."

Mia S.

"I say intuition is the number one tool, really, of the human being. Intuition, the way I think about it, is mind and emotion, intellect and emotion, together. It's a feel-thinking, it's a knowingness. And it is extremely important. Everybody has this, but I don't think everybody has the same amount. It's like consciousness, they say every human being has consciousness, but not every human being has the same amount. The potential, however, for every human being is infinite consciousness, enlightenment, supreme enlightenment. Intuition is tied tightly to consciousness. You can't just wish for more intuition; you can't just imagine you have more intuition. Same way with consciousness. You got to go where it is and get more, it's like fishing. You can put your hook on a desert and lay it on a desert in the sand; you wait for a long time for a fish, maybe it's huge, huge ages of time before water and fish come. So you've got to go where the treasure is. I guess the analogy is, The chef doesn't make the fish, the chef just cooks the fish. And the chef can cook it really high-end, fantastic, or they can cook it very poorly, maybe even not cook it all the way through and people get sick. But the chef doesn't make the fish, just like these ideas - the person catching the idea doesn't make the idea. It's crazy, we really rely on these gifts to do anything."