Sunday 13 March 2016

Ideas: Where Do You Get Them From?

Back many years ago, when I was still in high school, I had finished writing my "third novel". Back then, my best fans were a few of my friends, especially since I based the main characters on them. One of them, Joseph, asked me, "Where do you get all of your ideas from?"

At the age of sixteen, I shrugged to that answer. Ideas seem to come from everywhere for me and, even now that I have hit forty-four, I still find ideas jump out at me unexpectedly. The trick is to be ready for them.

You see, ideas are a strange thing. If you are looking for them, you may feel you have to push them. When you are not ready for them, say, when you are driving the car, the little bastards jump out at you from nowhere and you have no way of capturing them.

These days I prepare a little better. I keep a journal or notebook near the bed so that if one comes to me in a dream, like the brilliant story idea that came to my wife in her sleep just the other night, I jump up and write it down. This is great except for two things. I sometimes wake Katrina from her sleep, which means she will be grumpy in the morning. The other second thing is my handwriting is difficult to read come to morning light.

The other time ideas jump out at me is while I am driving. I really hate that because they know I cannot write them down without having to stop the car and risk being late. So I am little sneakier. They do not realise that I have a voice-recording app called "Voice Memo" on my phone. I keep that secretly in the console beside the driver seat so that I can turn it on with my fingerprint scanner and hit the start button... all without taking my eyes off the road. Then I talk the ideas out.

This voice-recording idea is great except for one thing. I have to find the time later so that I can actually listen to my recording later! I am a much better speed-reader of written things than a speed-listener. Now what happens when I have listened to these ideas and re-written them with other notes?

The hard part comes in trying to make that little idea into something that is worth at least 40,000 words. Typically, I like to aim for 75,000 these days. When I was a teenager, I just figured I would make ten typed pages and call that a chapter, while aiming to have seventeen to twenty of those altogether.

If ideas are hard to come by, and I want to do my exercise of typing 1000-2000 words while the morning is young, I try some mind-mapping of ideas, using free association of words and thoughts. Mind-mapping is a great tool, which I use in creating routines for my stage performances as a mentalist.

What do you use to brainstorm new ideas?

No comments:

Post a Comment