Idea Babies.

You ever feel the pressure to be an ideas factory?

All those authors constantly wagging on about how they’re so brim full of ideas all the time they can barely buy enough notepads to cram them all into. It’s almost sickening, because, really, where the hell are they all coming from, these ideas of theirs? And could some possibly drop in through my brain box at some time? Y’know, just for a second…

Cos truth be told I am not an ideas factory. I gather things slowly, almost monotonously, and they really only begin to coalesce when I’ve a pressing need for them. If I don’t really need to write a story for whatever reason, those disparate parts of ideas stay resolutely alienated from one another. Like sullen teenagers at a family party, they cling to the walls, refusing to take part.

I suppose I should be grateful that they ever decide to play ball at all. But I can’t help but think of the ideas in other writers’ minds as gambolling little spring lambs flinging themselves with merry abandon upon the verdant lawn of their writer’s consciousnesses. It makes me, I will admit, a tad peevish.

So what the freak is it, all you writers bursting with ideas out the ying yang? What the heck are you lot doing differently?

Mental bear traps…

Mud pits…

Electrified hair follicles…

Neural bolas…

Squads of well-trained dust bunnies…

I honestly don’t get it. I would love to be an ideas factory but I’ll be honest and say the closest I ever get to being one is feeling pressurised that I should be one, when I’m actually not. Makes it worse that someone (cannot recall who – senile, y’know…) posted some crazed quote on twitter along the lines of: there are those who can think of great ideas but can barely write them and there are those who can write really well but suck at ideas. Eek! Really now?

Look at that statement closely, it’s a bit damning either way and whilst it is, I’m more than convinced, a ridiculous generalisation and therefore not to be taken too seriously, it certainly needled me enough to get me thinking about all those dozens of times I’ve read on blogs, twitter, forums etc about how some author or other is just drowning in ideas, darling, positively swarming with the blighters.

Just colour me pea green and call me Mrs Underachiever.

Let me return briefly to my sullen teenagers, clutching their opposite walls with mulish determination. As I said, if so much as the glimmer of a deadline or a pressing need wobble into the equation (unless I’m really deep into another project or striking out on enthusiasm for the subject matter) my teens are struck as if (SPOILERS) manipulated by the Cabin in the Woods office crew: they can’t hump each other into a full-blown (*snigger*) story fast enough.

Yes, yes, I get that I should be pleased that the blighters decide to lock proverbial parts and produce story baby at all, but damn me if I’m not still champing at the bit to be one of those notepad toting idea founts who need an inflatable ring just to wade through the shallow end of their ideas pool.

Just once I would prefer a deluge to a slow, monotonous drizzle. A love-fest to a reluctant coupling under duress of deadline. A surging herd of croc leaping brain Bison rather than the straggling, moth eaten pack of lugubrious moose residing in my frontal lobe. Is that so very much to ask, I wonder?

I haven’t the faintest idea.


7 thoughts on “Idea Babies.

  1. Interesting post, mate. Shows how we are all different. I suffer from too many ideas so that my focus is always split rather than laser-like aimed on one particular thing. My ideas come to me from conversations, from constant ‘what-if’ questioning, and from disparate parts of the media. Not sure why, but my brain seems to want to connect and relate things constantly in the form of stories. Maybe it comes from my predilection for writing short stories, where ideas are your daily bread and butter. Novels don’t need that rapid fire idea machine, but a slower more considered long-term view.

  2. My brain is like a wasteland, honestly. A few broken down bear-pit whoring towns with cheap saloons and bloody violence, but apart from that it’s all cold, empty silence, the slow rise of the sun, the pervading crack of overheated mud flats and rocks. Novels happen as occasional inter-hovel wars. Gangs of marauding, ill-dressed, mannerless low-lives shooting each other to shreds from behind cacti. I has little control over the process. Low-lives aren’t that responsive to authority.

    Only one thing for it… *fetches jar* I’ll be borrowing your brainz for ‘scientific’ research. 😛

  3. Huh. I don’t seem to fit either mold – or rather, I jump between them. I’ll go months or years without an idea (longest stretch was 5 years) than I’ll get deluged with them. Whether I’m looking for an idea or not doesn’t seem to matter. It’s almost like… like there is this fountain of creativity in my mind. It’s either blocked, or exploding. When it’s blocked, I got nothing. When it’s exploding, everywhere I turn ‘oh! idea.’

    But sorry, you can’t get my brain for your research, I have a prior claim on it. Feel free to let me know what you discover from Colin’s though.

    1. Sometimes I get that for my scraps. Everywhere I turn a new scrap awaits my attention, demanding to be noted down. They then sit, fallow, for as long as it takes for me to need them enough to awaken the process of collision. Can be very frustrating long, that wait. But the juxtaposition of the scraps never ceases to astound me, it’s like they know what they wanted to be, they were just waiting for me to watch them conjoin. I wish I felt more in control of the process.

  4. I feel your pain – I’m likewise unafflicted with scads of story ideas. I’ve been writing since my late teens, and apart from my current trilogy I have maybe a handful of unfinished trunk novels to my name – and those I’ll be mining heavily for future projects.

    Like you, I find that inspiration has to be dragged from my subconscious kicking and screaming, usually when I force myself to sit down and keep writing. It’s frustrating, but I think you have to learn to work with what you’ve got. I’ll just comfort myself with the theory propounded above, that I compensate by writing really well 🙂

    1. I have lots of old notions that could be good ideas if they found some substance, and a few old ideas that look solid enough to be written but probably aren’t – after the Coil books I have three books in the latter category and one book coalescing but still ghostly, and then a series that’s literally a skeletal world idea with no meat to it, I only know it’s a series because of the nature of the world it wants to be – too complex to cover in one book. Whatever the story is for that one, it won’t be simple.

      I could scream sometimes.

      I am, however, unusually burdened with short story ideas at the moment. I have four of them. That’ll make nine or ten ideas altogether this year. It’s a bumper crop. Whatever mental fertility is seeding this crop I’m trying not to pay attention to it, in case it goes away.

  5. Sounds like you have *enough* ideas. That’s the main thing. And really, who cares if somebody has a million ideas a day, they still can’t write them any faster.

    I have plenty of ideas myself, I just worry if they’re original or good enough or I forget them by accident. I’ve forgotten some really brilliant book ideas.

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