Feature image from LOLA GUERRERA
Pinterest teaches us, if nothing else, that there are plenty of ideas to be had and not all of them need to be life changing.
When I first begun writing I clung desperately to any tiny morsels of inspiration that came my way. I cut out favourite sentences from paragraphs I was going to discard, hoping to save them and use them again in another story. At best I thought my creativity was a statistical likelihood given how much time I spend trying, at worst a complete fluke. I thought I would only have a finite number of good ideas so I was diligent not to waste them.
When I first begun writing, I did not believe in my ability to continually generate ideas and was certain it was only a matter of time before I dried up.
Which is why I found it so difficult to let go of my first novel. I was not sure I would have another idea. I clung to that crazy monster for too long, wasting hours and days of my writing life trying to hold it together; trying to save the good parts and glue together the worst of it.
I knew I NEEDED A BETTER IDEA but I was not sure one would come to me.
To put it simply, I was very scared.
It wasn’t until I finally set that monster aside (I cannot even bring myself to say it’s name any more) that more ideas started to bloom. It wasn’t until I made space in my mind more thoughts and inspiration arose.
Donald J. Treffinger wrote these four basic guidelines on PREPARING CREATIVE AND CRITICAL THINKERS.
- Defer judgment. When generating options, productive thinkers separate generating from judging. They direct their effort and energy to producing possibilities that can be judged later.
- Seek quantity. The more options a person or group generates, the greater the likelihood that at least some of those possibilities will be intriguing and potentially useful.
- Encourage all possibilities. Even possibilities that seem wild or silly might serve as a springboard for someone to make an original and powerful new connection.
- Look for combinations. It is often possible to increase the quantity and quality of options by building on the thinking of others or by seeing new combinations that may be stronger than any of their parts.
I would like to add one more. SPACE. Allow space in your mind for new ideas to arise. When your who focus is taken up with one all encompassing project, there is no room for brainstorming, contemplation, mindless chatting over tea or taking a walk. There was no space in my mind for anything more. I had blown everything completely out of proportion and was now holding on to those few ideas for dear life. I cringe just thinking about it now.
Here are my tips for making a little breathing room in you mind and your writing practice.
- Clean up your desk, office, writing nook.
- Get rid of clutter and crap.
- Pay all your bills and make an appointment with a doctor.
- Watch the news
- Forget the guilt and fall into the youtube/Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook hole for a while.
- Listen to old music
- Get in the bath.
Lots of people tell you to take a walk. Writers seems to be synonymous with walkers actually. Bryce Courtney did it, Mark Tredinnick does it, Virgina Woolf does it, and so does Kate Liston but for me the walk has never pushed my buttons. Walking always relaxes me and changes my mood for the better – but ideas? Nada.
Don’t feel bad if your rhythm and working practice does not look like everyone else’s.
How do you generate ideas?