Don't judge

Thursday, January 25, 2018
Have you ever had an idea for a story or book that you didn't explore, only to find out that someone else had the same idea? And published it? And made a lot of money? You may have kicked yourself for letting go of a perfectly fine idea because you couldn't see past your own perception of whether or not it was worthwhile.

Many years ago, someone hung a sign in our office stating that ideas are in the air, and you just have to reach out and grab them. So how do you grab these ideas? Most likely, writers catch thoughts and ideas with their pens, pencils, and computers.

If ideas are in the air, pay attention. You can do this by developing a habit of sitting quietly, letting those thoughts flow, and following them. Something your neighbor said about her service dog may pop into your head while watching a news story about robotic dogs, which may help you connect the dots and develop a story about robotic service dogs that may or may not rise up against humans.

The key is to be quiet and listen. By listening to my thoughts and recording them, I've developed character traits for a protagonist while watching someone do the dishes, generated an article idea from a product label, and found solutions to plot problems by reminiscing about a ferry ride across Lake Michigan.

A writer's job is not to judge. Don't fall into the trap of dismissing your ideas that may be viable, valuable, and worthy of further exploration. Write them down, type them up, or record them. Just don't let them go.

Mary Horner's story Shirley and the Apricot Tree was recently published in Kansas City Voices. She has written for numerous publications and teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges, and earned the Writing Certificate from UM-St. Louis.


Joanne said...

So true...excellent advice. Thank you!

Nicole Pyles said...

uGH This has ABSOLUTELY happened to me and it drives me bonkers. It's like I'll look at the book and say to myself (or outloud and outraged haha) "I HAD THAT IDEA FIRST." So this year is the no judgement year for me. And also even though the idea is taken it's not the same as what we could come up with!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--Oh. So there's times I need to slow down and get quiet and just listen, watch and soak up everything around me?

It's the slowing down part that's hard. ;)

Thanks for the reminder/nudge.

The Story Speculator said...

I started blogging my ideas to share with the world, as I never have enough time to see them written. I hope someone out there will be able to take the ideas and make them real for me :)

Angela Mackintosh said...

So true! I have so many ideas I dismiss because I think they're not good enough, but they may be worth pursuing if I develop them more.

We all are tuned in to the same media, so it's logical that we'd have similar ideas. When a topic has been done to death, you can always reimagine it with perspective and format.

Mary Horner said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! I'm glad I'm not the only one who does this. Sioux, the hard part is slowing down and being quiet. And even when I'm quiet my mind has a tendency to race a million miles a minute, which doesn't help. Nicole, you are right that even if we had the same idea it would be a different take on the topic. That's important to remember! Story Speculator that is an interesting perspective, and I applaud you for that! And Angela, that's an excellent point about being exposed to the same things through the media. So a unique perspective is appreciated!

Pat Wahler said...

I truly believe when we pay attention to our ideas, the ideas will continue to come. If we ignore them, it's almost like clogging a water pipe. It will slow our ability to find new inspiration.

Great post, Mary!

Linda O'Connell said...

Mary, you are spot on with this advice. Inspiration is everywhere if we take time to ferret a gem of an idea to develop into a story.

Dianna Graveman said...

Good reminders, Mary! You've inspired me to pack a notebook and start jotting down thoughts again next time I'm out and about. Loved the blog post; keep 'em coming!

Unknown said...

This is great advice! I recently picked up journaling again for just this reason. Sometimes the ideas are little more than a brief shimmer in the periphery and then they're gone, but when I let my mind open up as I'm writing, I can often reclaim thoughts I'd have otherwise lost. Also, I find journaling is better than just using Post-its, because I have been known to jot down things like "Robot Cupcakes" and later have no idea where I was going with that. Of course reading your post I now wonder if these robot cupcakes need to rise up and take over the world. That's probably a pretty stupid idea, but I'll reserve judgment for now.

Sheree Nielsen said...

The best place that stirs my inspiration is a body of water - a lake, the ocean, a creek bed. I've come up with great ideas for essays and poems this way. And if I can't get to one right away, I take comfort in the fact that I will be soon.

Another bit of inspiration for me is nature. If I'm feeling stuck, I take a walk on our property with the dogs, and suddenly I feel energized.

Then there's always dreams, but I don't always write them down when I wake up!

Great advice Mary.

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top