JM Williams

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REBLOG: Where Ideas Come From


There’s nothing wrong with writing stupid or pointless things. I think, that’s maybe the best bit of advice you can offer a new writer. Much of the content of Douglas Adams’s work is stupid and pointless, but done in such a majestic way. Sometimes we just want to read something totally ridiculous, to remind ourselves that our lives are not so bad after all.

I imagine every writer has trouble coming up with ideas from time to time. We get the occasional muse, but otherwise we are just as boring as the rest of the world. I think the trick is keeping hold of those muses, those ideas, when they spring up. Whenever I get a story idea in my head, if I don’t have time to write it out immediately (which is pretty much always), I create a notes page with all the details I can think of.

I just made one for a new story that came to me last night, after watching John Wick II, and just before crawling into bed. I had to fight the urge to just let it go–I’m one who loves his sleep. Instead, I booted up my slow-as-slugs desktop and typed out everything that was filling my head. Never let a good muse go to waste, certainly not for an extra 30 minutes of sleep.

I think Lisa here is too hard on herself. She’s got some talent with words, as her article suggests. The hardest part about starting to write is casting aside your ego and jumping in. You will never know if you can write a novel until you try. Investing in a long project makes you nervous? Write a short story. Write anything. Just write.

The ideas will come once you’ve provided them a space to sit and enjoy their tea and biscuits (those would be cookies for my countrymen). Imagination is a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, it will atrophy. But the more you train it, the stronger it will become.

Don’t be discouraged, Lisa. Just sit down and work that mental muscle.

Writing, like any art or discipline, takes daily practice and dedication to learning about the craft from those who have come before you. In learning, I like to teach, so each week I will take a piece of advice from the greats, both living and dead, famous and not, and apply their lessons to my […]

via Douglas Adams on Where Ideas Come From — ZEN AND PI

3 Responses to REBLOG: Where Ideas Come From

  1. I’m lucky that coming up with ideas is not one of the writers’ woes that I suffer from (I wish I could say the same about several others). I’m drowning in ideas. Executing them? That’s another story (ha ha). I think sometimes the brain freeze about coming up with A New Idea is the enormity of it all If someone pointed at me and said, “NEW IDEA, NOW!” I’d be overwhelmed by the infinite number of things to consider. That’s why I like working with photo prompts so much. It helps narrow down the subject, so I can start asking questions and get myself to a reasonable idea.

    • Yes, prompts are very helpful! Have you tried theme or sentence prompts? There are some publishers out there that pay for short stories based on prompts. Look up “First Line Literary” and “Gathering Storm Magazine.”

      • Yes, I have a list of publishers, some of which do theme prompts; I have my eye on a few. I generally don’t do as well with sentence prompts because they tend not to be Eneana-friendly. Same thing with photo prompts, if they want me to use the exact photo (instead a swapping in an Eneana-friendly one).

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