One question writers are often asked is, “How do you get your ideas?”
Well, I can’t speak for all writers, of course, but in my case, it’s the ideas that seem to get me. My problem is not finding ideas to write about. My problem is that I have so many story ideas that there aren’t enough days in a lifetime to bring them all to completion. They’re all good ideas, all stories worth writing. I have a bad tendency, when looking for a new project to begin, to stare at my “ideas” folder without a clue of where to start. I will pick a few, go through them, like each one just as well as the rest and either shut down my computer without doing anything constructive, or wind up writing something totally different. The old ideas that have been waiting for my attention for so long just keep on waiting.
Some ideas just pop into my head while I’m doing mundane chores. Others come to me in dreams (some of my favorite stories have been hatched that way). Others will be sparked by something I see on TV, read in a newspaper, or hear in the lyrics of a song. At other times, someone will say something in passing that gets my brain chugging away, and off I go into a storyline.
The ideas run around in my head, defying me to corral them. Sometimes I do, long enough to write a few pages or hack out a rough outline. Then, the next time I sit down to write, another idea is screaming “me first” from the sidelines, so I’ll do the same for that one.
Maybe that is why it tends to take me so long to write a book.
That’s also why I tend to have such fun with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every November. NaNo is like an idea-herding Border Collie for writers like me. It forces us to focus on one thing, one idea, and see it through to the end of a draft (or at least 50,000 words worth).
I’ve mentioned that, at the moment, I have several books in various stages of writing and revising. In addition to that, I probably have thirty or forty “idea files” for future projects. I know I’ll likely never get them all written….
…But at least I’ll have fun trying.
Are you like me? Do you have more ideas (whether they’re writing projects, artwork ideas, craft ideas, or even projects around the home) than you can herd into an organized process? Have any tricks that help you along? Feel free to share them!