Finding Ideas in the Trenches

This week we've been talking about where ideas come from. Be sure to check out the great posts made by my fellow Muses. I'd like to share two thoughts on the subject.

Ideas Take Work

An idea is simply a thought. Easy enough to do, right? How hard is it to think? And ideas come quickly, don't they? The very word "idea" summons the cartoon-like light bulb moment.

Maybe that's the case for some people. They come up with an idea for a bestseller as they are brushing their teeth or waiting in line at Starbucks. I've had a few great light bulb moments myself. More often, though, ideas build slowly for me. I pick at them. Break them down. Build them up. I take the detours and turns Donna described. I ask a thousand What ifs like Katy. And then, as Talia shared, I evaluate to be sure it's the right idea for now.

My point is that ideas take work. So don't worry if brilliant ideas aren't just magically popping into your mind. That could happen. It would be great. But you can go find those ideas. So roll up your sleeves and open your eyes to the world.

Novels Are Made of Millions of Light Bulbs

Before I began to write seriously, I remember thinking about novelists, "How in the heck do they come up with all of that?"

Because the thing is, books are complex. When you stop to think about plot, character, setting, theme... ok, let's not think about it too much. Point is, novelists need to conjure up an enormous number of ideas. Books are not built in one light bulb moment, though they may begin that way. Building a novel means day after day after day of sitting yourself down and making yourself think. It's fumbling through the dark for the lamp and finding that light bulb after you've stubbed your toe along the way.

There are days that feel overwhelming. There are days that feel uninspired. It doesn't matter. Those days don't really count. What count are the days that you do find that next idea. That's how we build as writers, one piece at a time. One idea after another. The task needs to be respected. Take it easy on yourself when it's just now flowing. We are creative thinkers, yes, but we are not idea factories.

So be hungry in your quest for ideas but be patient, too.

That concludes my thoughts on thoughts.

I leave you with a new picture of Ivan.


So true. In my first drafts its like the bones of the idea, and then the second, third, or however many rounds of revision add all the muscle, blood, ect... Ideas DO take time! Thanks for the post. And IVAN, I wanna kiss darn cute!

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