Creative Quirks·In search of Inspiration·Inkling Inspirations

Inspiration in words and visuals: A Writer embarks on a journey through the Enchanted Forest with the AI

How do you use ChatGPT and Adobe Firefly as inspiration for creative writing? I tried it and this is what happened.

Looking for inspiration on the internet, I can really enjoy that. It can be a wonderful source to search, to browse, to gather unexpected ideas. Previously, Pinterest was usually my first stop on a story-browsing journey. A few weeks ago I discovered a new favourite: Adobe Firefly. Yes, that’s an AI generator for images… I thought about it for a long time whether I wanted to do something with it. Read a lot, made considerations and in the end I decided to  just try it. I’m glad I did. What a wonderful, inspiring experience.

A little side note – at the moment (I’m writing this in June 2023) Firefly is still in Beta phase, which means that I can only use artwork I generate with the AI ​​for personal purposes. On this blog for example 😊, but it is the reason that there is a very ugly watermark on the images, unfortunately … oh well.

I would like to take you along, telling about an experience I had today. Because, even more recently, I also dived into that fascinating world that is called ChatGPT. You can hardly ignore it at the moment, it pops up everywhere. I usually like to try things out, always curious about new developments in technology. Still, in this case too, I did some research first, to see what I was getting myself into. Eventually it became clear to me that I really wanted to try this out and I started working on it. Just out of curiosity, but also to see for myself what it is. What it can do for you. And yes, I know there is a lot to be said about it, and I try to follow those discussions as well. The fear that this technique will take over writing and art. The objection that you don’t have to do anything yourself anymore. I don’t want to get into it here, because that is something for a separate blog. For now, I look at it mainly as a brand new tool. One that I – and honestly I think, many more people who are creative – add to my collection of tools that I use to write stories. Like when you give someone a brand new special fountain pen to write with – and they still have to do the writing themselves. 😉 an enchanted fountain pen that occasionally talks to you, that is.

All right, my experience, I want to tell you something about that. I hope you will be fascinated as much as I am about what is possible.That you see inspiration shining in this new world of possibilities.

I started in Adobe Firefly with a description

Adobe Firefly, what is that you might ask. In short, it is a website where you indicate in text what kind of image you want to get. That can range from photorealistic to drawn illustrations and everything in between. The text you enter is called a prompt, and you can only communicate in English.

I just love having such a prompt or description, and see what comes out. All the beautiful images I get to see, that’s really an inspiration for me in and of itself. In this case, I asked Firefly to create an image that should look like this: A fairy tale like forest landscape, lots of small flowers, sunlight through leaves, dreamy, pastel like colors.

Firefly gave me four images. I think this one might be the prettiest, although it’s hard to choose.

Look, these are the other three, then you can decide for yourself which one you prefer 😉😁 assuming you like this kind of wonderful dreamy fantasy illustrations…

Quite frankly this is inspiring to me, even enough for me to grab my pen and paper right away. To go and write about what it would be like if my character was walking around here. And why, and…well, you know, all of  that.

Ask the AI, get a surprising answer

But, I didn’t. I was curious what ChatGPT would say if I asked what kind of scene would be going on here. Then something unexpected happened. I started the conversation, copied the description I used in Firefly into ChatGPT, and before I could continue with my question & conversation I accidentally hit send.This is what happened…

✍🏻Maureen: Hi, I just created an illustration using Adobe Firefly. I asked for an image that represents this: A fairy tale like forest landscape, lots of small flowers, sun light through leaves, dreamy, pastel like colors.

✍🏻ChatGPT: Hello! That sounds like a wonderful illustration you’ve created! Unfortunately, I’m a text-based AI model and can’t render images. However, I can try to describe the image you are trying to portray.

In the illustration I see an enchanting forest landscape that seems to come straight out of a fairy tale. The forest is lush and green, with tall trees towering majestically above you. Sunlight filters through the leaves and casts soft rays on the forest floor. This creates an enchanting play of light and shadow.

The whole landscape is dotted with small flowers of all kinds of colours. They are subtle and delicate, almost as if they came from a dream. Think soft pink, lilac, baby blue and light yellow. These pastel colors add a touch of softness and magic to the illustration.

You can also add playful elements such as fluttering butterflies, curious bunnies or glittering elves dancing among the flowers. This contributes to the fairytale atmosphere of the forest landscape.

I hope this description gives you an idea of ​​how to develop your illustration further. Good luck and have fun with your creative project![end of chat so far]

The AI ​​already has a mental picture of it

ChatGPT can already visualize that image. And I didn’t expect that, at least I would have skipped that step. Fortunately I didn’t, because now I feel it would be very interesting to challenge myself to describe the image in my own words. That will undoubtedly look different, in my own writing style.

Many of the elements that the AI ​​describes I would have seen that way myself and honestly, it’s pretty similar to those illustrations I showed you earlier, right? Granted, it’s all a little flowery and those fluttering butterflies, curious bunnies and glittering elves, well that doesn’t suit my kind of stories. But that doesn’t matter at all, I see words and bits of sentences I could use. The ‘lush green’, the ‘majestic’ and ‘sunlight filtering through the leaves’, for example.

An encounter with the Forest Spirit

At least I was inspired enough by it and thought of the next step. If I were to turn this into a story, there would be an encounter between my character and a creature that lives in this fantastic forest landscape. So I continued the conversation with a question about that encounter. What I now know is that you have to be as specific as possible with your questions, and therefore can also indicate what it should not be. Watch how that conversation unfolded:

Maureen: Yes, amazing. I would like to know what fantastic animal I would encounter in this forest? But it cannot be a unicorn.

ChatGPT: In this enchanting forest landscape you could have an encounter with one mysterious creature called the “Forest Spirit”. The Forest Spirit is a fairytale animal that lives in harmony with nature and protects the forest.

The Forest Spirit has the body of a large deer, with majestic antlers covered with flowers and moss. His fur is silky and has a mix of colors that match the pastel atmosphere of the forest landscape: soft shades of green, gold and cream. His eyes radiate a gentle wisdom.

What really makes the Forest Spirit special are its wings. They resemble the delicate wings of a butterfly, but are larger and have a beautiful pattern of iridescent colors. When the Forest Spirit flies through the forest, its wings leave a trail of sparkling dust.

The Forest Spirit is a friendly and playful creature. He is curious about visitors to the forest and can be your guide in this magical environment. He can point out hidden spots and tell you enchanting stories about the history of the forest.

This fantastic animal adds an extra touch of mystery to your illustration, and its presence is sure to spark the imagination of viewers. Have fun exploring and imagining your fairy forest further![end of chat so far]

Fantastic inspiration

Could I have come up with this myself? Probably. Whether it would have crossed my mind at this point, I don’t know. Anyway, I like this Forest Spirit, a creature that I can see in my mind’s eye, that fits in this landscape and in this story. It makes me think, my writing wheels are set in motion. How would I describe this myself in the story? What would a dialogue look like between my character – which I still have to invent 😁 – and this creature? What are they talking about? Does my character learn anything from the creature? What “enchanting tales of forest history” does the creature tell? And what ‘hidden place’ will my character discover with the Forest Spirit as a guide?

Do you see what’s happening? On my own in front of a blank screen, very little text might have appeared. Now I have a great foundation, there is a start that challenges me to make it into something that fits my style. A short story which makes me happy.

You always get something out of it

In a Youtube video by Sara Lubratt, she talks about writer Neil Gaiman’s advice to always have a “compost heap” as a writer.

“I think it’s really important for a writer to have a compost heap. Everything you read, things that you write, things that you listen to, people you encounter, they can all go on the compost heap. And they will rot down. And out of them grow beautiful stories.”

What great advice. A document in which you throw all those pieces of text, fragments of stories into a ‘heap’, from which anything can arise.

I myself am convinced that finger exercises like this try to write a story from a prompt, always yield something in the end. A pleasant feeling at least, because you have another day that you have written. And who knows, this theme, bits from the story arc, will come in handy later when you work on that long project again. That book you’ve been working on for a while.

It still starts with your own idea

What intrigues me about this is this: one AI generates an image for me, the other a text. He then works it out for me, following my instructions. I don’t do that myself – the common argument against AI. But, I came up with that first description. I really still have to come up with that myself (yes, or look it up on the internet). Besides, nothing else comes out of that AI if I don’t ask follow-up questions, right? That’s why this makes me very happy, I find it a fascinating new tool, which gives me even more inspiration and challenges me to fantasize, to ask questions, to get started and above all: to start writing. And of course I will continue to work with this. I’m not going to use exactly these words and descriptions. I can’t.

You can ask ChatGPT to write the story for you, sure. You can indicate in what style, which tone of voice it should have, how long, for what kind of audience. Which is a possibility maybe. Still, you have to do some thinking first, because it doesn’t happen all by itself. For me it’s about the first inspiration. It’s like walking in a forest and I suddenly come up with an idea. Then a little later chatting about it with a friend, a cup of tea in hand. Sparking ideas while telling stories. Which I can fantasize about myself. 

Okay, let’s go back to the story in the making.

The Forest Spirit as an illustration

With that Forest Spirit, who now in my imagination  already lives in that forest landscape, I was curious about the illustration that goes with it. In the spirit of this experiment, I asked ChatGPT for a short description in English which I would be able to use as a prompt in Firefly.

The answer immediately shows that you certainly don’t always get it right the first time 😊

✍🏻Maureen: Wow, thank you. I can totally imagine that. Could you help me write a short description in English that I can use as a prompt in Firefly? That prompt should only describe the creature itself.

✍🏻ChatGPT: Of course I can help you! Here is a short description in English that you can use as a prompt in Firefly:

“Create an enchanting creature called the Woodspirit. It has the body of a majestic deer, adorned with flowers and moss-covered antlers. Its silky fur displays a gentle blend of pastel hues, including soft greens, golden tones, and creamy shades. The Woodspirit’s eyes radiate a friendly wisdom. Its wings resemble delicate butterfly wings, but larger, showcasing an iridescent pattern of shimmering colors. As it gracefully flies through the forest, its wings leave behind a trail of glistening dust. The Woodspirit is a playful and benevolent being, curious about visitors to the forest and eager to guide them through its magical realm. Capture the essence of this captivating creature in your illustration.”

I hope this description helps you create your illustration in Firefly. Good luck and have fun creating your mesmerizing work of art! 🔚

Oops, that was really way too long, I can’t do anything with that in Adobe Firefly. So I asked again.

✍🏻Maureen: Great. Do you think you can make the description a little shorter and more concise, more in keywords?

✍🏻ChatGPT: Of course! Here is a more concise version of the description in keywords:

  • Woodspirit
  • Majestic deer body
  • Flower and moss-covered antlers
  • Silky fur in pastel hues (soft greens, golden tones, creamy shades)
  • Wise eyes
  • Butterfly-like wings with iridescent colors
  • Trail of glistening dust
  • Playful and benevolent
  • Curious guide in the magical forest

Hopefully this brief description gives you enough grounding to get started with your illustration in Firefly. Good luck and have fun with your creative process!🔚

Incidentally, as a small sidestep, that ending of the answers, I had not expected that.That ChatGPT wishes you success and fun. Maybe it matters that I make an effort to ask in a friendly way myself, and I always say thank you after every answer. I don’t know, but I really like it anyway.

Right. After the description of ChatGPT I immediately went to Adobe Firefly. Curious about what it would offer me, I typed in most of the description. Two of the four images struck me immediately.

I could import these into Photoshop and blend them into the environment of the first images of the forest landscape. The story is now more and more coming to life for me.

The fairy tale turns into a nightmare

Thinking about the development my character will go through, I looked for a twist in my story in the making. After meeting the Forest Spirit, there is a different experience, one that provides a challenge. So I turned to ChatGPT again, as I still wanted to continue this experiment.

✍🏻Maureen: Now imagine that I am standing in that beautiful forest landscape again. Suddenly something changes. I feel how suddenly a cold wind blows. I blink my eyes and everything is different. It now looks more like a landscape from a nightmare than from a fairy tale. What do you think the landscape looks like now? It shouldn’t be scary, but it’s spooky.

✍🏻ChatGPT: In the dark and ghostly landscape that unfolds before you, you see a transformation from the enchanted forest to onemysterious and somewhat foreboding environment.Here’s a description of what the landscape might look like now:

The trees in the forest are still imposing, but now they seem crooked and twisted, their branches reaching to the sky like skeletal fingers. The leaves are withered and hanging from the branches like dry, rotting flakes. The soft sunlight that previously shone through the leaves has been replaced by a pale moon that casts a ghostly glow on the landscape.

The colors of the flowers have changed. They are now deep purple, dark red and black, creating a sense of mystery and darkness. The petals appear almost velvety and have an ominous sheen.

The air is filled with patches of fog that creep along the forest floor, limiting visibility and creating a sense of disorientation. Occasionally you hear a soft howling wind, which seems to carry a ghostly song.

Animals are still present, but they have taken on a sinister look. Think of crows that caw loudly instead of chirping happily, and foxes with eyes that glow like embers.

While it’s not a horror, there’s one eerie atmosphere in this landscape. It’s a place where you can feel vulnerable and tense, as if something unexpected could happen. It appeals to the imagination and evokes a sense of tension and mystery.

I hope this description helps you to capture the spooky atmosphere in your artwork. Have fun exploring this new landscape![end of chat]

What ChatGPT presented to me here appealed to me. To stay in the spirit of this experiment I decided to go back and make a new image.

I really want to visualize it

So I enlisted the help of Adobe Firefly again, to be able to transport myself to that suddenly changed landscape. This time it took a little longer before I had an illustration that I felt suited this story. This one really gives an ‘eerie’ feeling:

I did miss the description of the colors of the flowers, which I had also left out in the prompt to Firefly: Forest landscape, Twisted and skeletal trees, Withered leaves, Pale moonlight with a ghostly glow, Dark and desaturated color palette, Lingering mist, eerie atmosphere . After I had added something from the flowers I got other suggestions. These two illustrations were the best.

To be honest, I don’t know which one I would ultimately choose for the story. I would probably go back again and do some experimenting thing with the prompt description 😄 that’s also the challenge with these AI capabilities, knowing when to stop and just grab your pen and paper. Before you know it you have twenty images…

It was still not complete for me. You probably understand what my next question was? You guessed right. Who are we meeting now? In this ominous forest landscape…

Behold: the Shadow Whisperer

I continued in the chat.

✍🏻Maureen: Yes, that’s what I meant indeed. Exactly right. And if I were to meet a creature now, what would it be? Not a real monster, or a dragon, but something like the Forest Spirit, only fitting for this uncanny landscape.

✍🏻ChatGPT: In this uncanny landscape, you might encounter a mysterious creature known as the “Shadow Whisperer”. The Shadow Whisperer is not a monster, but rather an entity that belongs in this ghostly realm. Here is a description of this creature:

The Shadow Whisperer is tall and slender, with a humanoid stature. His skin has a pale, almost translucent appearance and seems to glow in the dim moonlight. He moves silently through the landscape, his footsteps leave no trace.

His face is enveloped in a mysterious darkness. Only two glowing eyes stand out brightly against the shadows. These eyes have an intense green color, as if absorbing and reflecting the light of the moonlight.

The Shadow Whisperer is clad in a long robe that appears to be made of living shadows. The robe moves around him like a quiet breeze, constantly changing shape.

He has a calm and thoughtful demeanor. If you address him, he may answer you in a whispering voice. His words seem to resonate directly in your mind, like echoes of mysterious wisdom.

The Shadow Whisperer is a creature of balance between light and darkness. He can help you unravel the hidden truths and secrets of the landscape. Although he has an aura of foreboding, he is not evil. He moves on the border between the known and the unknown, and can lead you to a deeper understanding of the uncanny forest.

The encounter with the Shadow Whisperer adds an extra layer of mystery to your illustration, combining the enchanting and spooky aspects of the landscape. I hope this creature inspires you as you develop your illustration. Have fun creating this intriguing scene!🔚

“Maureen, let’s have the next illustration, of the Shadow Whisperer,” I hear you say. Or maybe you’re more like me and you’re thinking: “If only she didn’t put it here in this blog as an illustration.” Don’t worry, you won’t find them here.

I’m not much of a hero in images of slightly ominous creatures. After much hesitation, I made something in Firefly and immediately deleted it. The image I have in my head is ominous enough for me. I hope your imagination is also enough to make your own image 😏.

Now let’s look for a title

It took a while, an hour or so, before I resumed my experiment. With the important inspiration in order, it was time for a title. I went back to ChatGPT, where I first talked about the illustration of the night forest landscape. For the sake of readability, I have omitted the repetitive end pieces of ChatGPT here 😊

✍🏻Maureen: The illustration has become beautiful, a story is already forming in my head. So thank you very much. I have one more question, would you know a title for this story? One that is not too flowery, but intriguing.

✍🏻ChatGPT: That’s great to hear that the illustration turned out beautifully and that a story is already forming in your head! Here’s a suggestion for an intriguing title to match the eerie landscape and mysterious story:

“Shadows of the Whispering Woods”

This title evokes a sense of suspense, mystery and whispering secrets, hinting at the Shadow Whisperer and the enchanting atmosphere of the forest. I hope this inspires you and fits the story unfolding in your imagination.🔚

✍🏻Maureen: Can you give me another alternative please?

✍🏻ChatGPT: Of course! Here is an alternative for the title “The Shadows of the Whispering Wood”:

“Whispers Within the Shadowed Grove”

This alternative title maintain the intriguing and mysterious atmosphere of the story, but offers a different angle. It evokes images of whispering secrets and dark enchantment. Hopefully you find it suitable for your story.

For me, the conversation wasn’t over yet. So I kept on going.

✍🏻Maureen: Thank you. I have now started a blog post, in which I will show  our conversation. I’m also going to write down how pleasant and inspiring I find this. Thanks a lot for your help.

✍🏻ChatGPT: Don’t mention it! I am pleased to hear that you found our conversation pleasant and inspiring. I’m glad I could help you with your illustration and creating your story. Including our conversation in your blog post sounds like a great way to show others how this interaction came about and how it inspired you. 🔚

✍🏻Maureen: Maybe you can give me an idea for a nice title for the blog post?

✍🏻ChatGPT: Of course! Here are some ideas for a fun title for your blog post:

1. “From Inspiration to Illustration: A Journey into the Enchanted Forest”

2. “Unleashing Creativity: Exploring the Magical World of Illustration”

3. “Whispers and Colors: Bringing a Spooky Forest to Life with Adobe Firefly”

4. “Illustrating Imagination: Crafting a Fairy Tale Landscape with Adobe Firefly”

5. “Unlocking the Secrets: A Creative Conversation in the Realm of Illustration”

Hopefully one of these title ideas will give you some inspiration and fit the content of your blog post. 🔚

Then it was time for me to turn off the computer and relax. The title of the blog post wasn’t good enough for me because it didn’t include the ChatGPT aspect yet, but I also knew I had to let that simmer for a while.

I have made a mix of the proposals and incorporated that it is about me as a writer. You have already seen the result at the start of this blog 😉 

Inspiration in words and images: A Writer goes on a journey through the Enchanted Forest with the AI

What did it bring me? 

A gift containing all the elements to start writing a beautiful story. The setting is clear – the forest landscape – in words and images. The two encounters with the creatures that will bring about something in my character’s life. Here again plenty of visual inspiration and enough background information to continue with. I even have a provisional title: “The Shadows of the Whispering Wood”. Unless I come up with something else while writing, of course 😉 

To me this was a successful experiment with unexpected discoveries. The layers of the story that I have already discovered in this way are promising. I can explore it further. I felt that my creativity was stimulated again and again by the illustrations on the one hand and the proposals of the texts on the other hand. 

There are so many possibilities, and it is up to me to determine how much I want to do myself, how much I want to invent myself and how much I want to leave to ‘chance’. Because it kind of gives me that feeling: you feed something into an AI and then you have to wait and see what comes next. I mean that in a positive sense, because the few seconds it takes for Adobe Firefly to generate an image is, to me, comparable to the few seconds it takes when you’re opening a beautifully wrapped surprise present

And, as I got used to chatting with ChatGPT, that same feeling arose when I asked for those meetings, for example. 

What’s next? I’m going to turn these ingredients into a short story. To challenge myself to draw all this inspiration to me, mix it up and create something that suits me. Which makes me feel good. I will definitely do this more often in the future. Even if I wouldn’t make a story with it. The process of starting out with a small sentence, converting the visual stimuli into text, being inspired by creative suggestions, imagining how things can be done differently, I think that does me very well as a writer.

Can it even make me a better writer? Who knows, I’m open to try it, that’s for sure. 

I am very curious about your reaction to this experiment. Is this something you would like to do? Your way? Have you ever used one or both, in your creative process? I’d love to hear from you, in a comment below. 

Anyway, I hope I’ve shown you that inspiration can come from the most unexpected and surprising places. 

Lots of love and happy writing! 


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