Idea-Catching

Ideas intrude the writer’s head with no regard for what he/she is doing at the time or whether or not he/she has any means to write it down before it runs off.  They never knock first, they just pop in and out again, sometimes before you’ve even really noticed. It’s always exciting but it’s rarely convenient. It’s not something you can directly control, although I do believe you can indirectly control the frequency of them.

I’ve never had a lack of ideas. To be honest, I always seem to have far too many – I just don’t have time to write them all and still I get more. I hoard them like I hoard bags and belts, except I have a choice with bags and belts – in theory. At least they don’t take up much space – just a couple of lines in a small notebook I keep on me at all times.

You may be feeling sickened by this post. I might be rubbing your dry spell right in your face. If this is the case, I apologise. I did say I believed you could indirectly control the frequency of idea invasions, though, and I’m not enough of a b*tch to keep that to myself. Here we go, then:

  • Keep something on you to note ideas down when you do get them. You might prefer a notebook, like me, or there might be a notes function on your phone, or maybe even a microphone so you could record a verbal idea. Whatever you decide to use, decide to use it – you’re more likely to get ideas if you’ve thought about getting them enough to do this. Also, when you do get them, you’ll be able to capture them before they escape.
  • Keep writing in mind – read magazines about writing or books about writing or blogs about writing or just chat about writing. Just do something so that it’s in your brain – that’s your idea bait.
  • Exercise – I find walking makes ideas appear, but you could try running/ jogging, swimming, yoga or anything.
  • Meditate – sometimes there is too much other stuff in your head for the idea to get its foot in the door. Clear some space through meditation. (I interpret meditation as making yourself think about nothing – it’s harder than it sounds, so try focusing on a simple object, like a candle flame, first.)
  • Travel – sometimes a change in location helps because it’s hard to get inspired by something so familiar – if you’re in a different place, you’ll see things as new. Also, the act of travelling itself helps – I always get bombarded with ideas on train journeys, for example.
  • Look for ideas. Don’t expect them to come to you all the time. When you’re going about your daily life, ask yourself if you could make a story out of anything – what you see, what you do, what you see other people do. People watch and ask yourself questions about them. If reality is not enough to spark something, change it in your mind with ‘what if’ questions.

The truth is, ideas don’t come from nowhere, even though it feels like it a lot of the time. They come from you – from your subconscious, from your imagination. You can’t control what they will be or when they invade but you can control how often they pop by and whether or not you keep them.

Have you got any more idea-catching tips?

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