“Ideas are like buses. You sit around for hours in the freezing rain waiting for one and then twenty turned up all at once.” ~Chris Musgrave
A common fear for new writers is losing The Great Idea, whether it be the tail end of a dream or something that flits through your mind while driving. Experienced writers worry about this on occasion, but I’ll let you in on a little secret.
You’ll have more ideas than you can write in your lifetime.
It’s true. Writing generates ideas (as does conversation) and you’ll never have more ideas than when you’re in the midst of writing something else.
“I get so many ideas from talking with my writers group, regardless of topic.” ~ Kirsten Blacketer
If you are truly worried about losing ideas, there are a few things you can do.
- Always keep paper and pen with you to jot them down.
- Use the voice recorder on your phone (or buy a digital recorder) and speak them while you are driving.
- Send an email to yourself with the story idea.
- Use Evernote or a similar program to record ideas while writing (I just jot them in a notebook).
- Keep pen and paper in the bathroom (or Aquanotes in the shower).
Feel free to record all the ideas you can manage, but don’t panic if one slips away. Many more will appear.
Trust your writer’s mind. If the idea occurred to you, it’s already been planted in that fertile space. It may surface months or years later and be unrecognizable, but trust that the memory of that idea is still inside the writer’s brain.
I’m a visual person so it annoys me to not be able to write them down and read them, but I’ve learned that mourning a lost idea is a waste of time because there are just too many that come along. Some get developed, some just sit in a notebook, but the more I read, write, and listen, the more ideas I get.
If your problem is a dearth of ideas, which is a whole conversation itself and one I will cover next week, the solution may be simpler than you think.
- Get adequate rest. A tired brain might be slower to make connections and produce ideas.
- Make space in your schedule. Daydreaming and thinking time (even boredom!) help to foster ideas.
- Eliminate stress whenever possible. A stressed body is worried about survival, not creativity.
- Read. A lot. Anything that interests you.
- Write. Writing generates ideas.
We’ll talk about generating and developing ideas next week.