Writers’ Secrets 3: I Wish I Could Write but I Could Never Think of a Good Idea

That’s because you don’t have a muse.

Some people really believe in muses. Some people believe that ideas choose people – like they’re sitting about in the air, picking heads to soar into. That if Shakespeare hadn’t written his sonnets, someone else would have.

I don’t but I understand why some do. Sometimes ideas do seem to just pop into your head. It is like magic, really. One minute, you’re getting on with your life and then, suddenly, inspiration strikes. The seed that could grow into a story is planted in your head.

Most of the time, I know where it came from. It’s like dreams – often you dream about whatever’s in your head anyway – a person you saw that day, for example. Most of my ideas come to me like this – through what I’m doing at that moment in time. Through a conversation or something I’m reading or something I see. I can trace the source.

Even so, it’s not clear why my mind takes that source and makes it something new. Something with a life of its own. It’s not a conscious thing. Inspiration is never a conscious thing. It’s just something your mind does. You can’t force it.

In saying that, I do think that you can train your mind to do it – not on demand but more often in general. By writing down the ideas you do get – and I’m sure everyone must get them occasionally – you’ll get more, just as writing down your dreams makes you more likely to remember them. I also find that the process of writing in itself makes me more open to them – i.e. if I’m writing regularly, I’ll get more ideas and if I haven’t written in months, I’ll get less.

So I guess there’s an exercise for everyone to try. The next time you get an idea, write it down, even if you have no intention of doing anything with it because, you never know, one day you might get an amazing idea that you just have to write.

Next week: what writer’s do with an idea.


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