Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts at Large: Ideas?

Somebody who'd read a few of my stories asked me something the other day, and I believe it's a question that probably every writer will have to field at some point:

"Where do you get your ideas?"

Seems like a pretty open-ended question, but it's really a very easy one to answer:

Right here, in my brain, of course...

Ok -- maybe that's a little too flippant.  I don't mean to sound disrespectful.  I admit that smart-ass answer is nothing but a "hey, I'll make a joke" defense mechanism, meant to distract you from the fact that I actually have absolutely no flipping clue where the ideas comes from. 

Unfortunately, the truthful answer -- "I don't know" -- isn't much of an answer at all.

For example, let's take some of the writing samples I've done for the Creative Copy Challenge.  With those, I'll start thinking about the list of ten prompt words -- an unfettered word-association internal brain-storming session, usually focusing on one word or two -- and sure enough, some snippet of an idea for a story will pop up.  I don't know what it will be, or where it may lead, and I definitely don’t have a hint of where it came from.  Probably from some seed that was planted from something else I read, saw, or experienced in my 50 years of living, but that's about all I can say.

But at least the ideas come, thankfully.  I don't know why, but for me, story ideas are not a problem.  As I said in an earlier post (I'm a Thief), my ideas may not always be 100% original, but I have no difficulty in coming up with something to write about.

The hard part for most of my life has been getting the idea onto the page; manhandling it into some semi-readable form that I could live with before deciding that it was all a bunch of crap and throwing the whole thing out. 

Now -- and maybe its maturity or maybe its early-onset senility -- I've finally gotten past that hurdle, and somehow, amazingly, I've become willing to live with what I write. 

However, while the ideas appear in a flash, and while I've become willing to settle with how they turn out, it still takes time to write them out into a complete story, and then more time to edit them for readability.  And time is always in short supply.

So these days, ideas aren't any more of an issue then they used to be -- I still have more than I know what to do with.  These days the difficulty is finding the time to put them all onto the page.


Julia Munroe Martin said...

I'm the same way -- I always have way too many ideas. Whether they're good or not, of course, is debatable. Nevertheless, I agree that the time needed to get ideas on the page is much more of an issue than coming up with the ideas!

Chris Fries said...

If only I could come up with an idea on how to get 36 hours out of each day... ;^)

Thanks for the visit and the comment, Julia!