As a creator, I find inspiration everywhere.
A fragment of conversation sparks a book title. Watching a couple eat silently in a restaurant births plot points. And even using my toaster – bright “Target” red in a kitchen filled with expensive, stainless steel appliances – makes me want to pen an underdog tale from its inanimate point of view.
Back in the day, I used to scribble all of these ideas down. I had a notebook that never left my side and I had pages upon pages of my best ideas ever! I told myself — and anybody else that would listen — that I was going to win an Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize for writing every single one of them.
To date, I’ve yet to win any of those coveted awards. But I have managed to create and take a few of those best ideas the distance. How many exactly? Well, I would tell you, but the numbers – specifically the percentages of completions and failures – don’t tell the entire story.
See, Fam, I’ve had to learn that creating is a process. And ideas come and go. The trick, though, to anchoring yourself and not being pulled willy-nilly in every direction is to allow ideas to wash over and away from you. Then, pay attention to the ones that stick.
Over the years, I’ve haphazardly developed a system:
I get an idea that I’m excited about. What’s the first thing I do? I don’t write it down. I know what you’re thinking – “If you don’t write it down, you’re going to forget it.”
Hence, the first and only rule in determining the value of an idea: Good ideas are unforgettable.
Now, I’m not as young as I used to be, so I don’t push the unforgettable rule as much anymore. Generally, I wait to see if the idea will take root. If it doesn’t, then it was just a brain fart. No harm, no foul.
But if it does start to germinate, I’ll let it roll around in my noggin for 1 to three days before jotting it down. Then depending on my excitement level, I keep building upon it piece by piece or I file it away to revisit later.
As you guessed it, Fam, some ideas are destined to languish in the maybe pile. But every now and again, an idea latches on to you and won’t let you go.
Case in point: Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. Just unexpectedly let go from her job, she was lamenting about her bills and how she was going to pay her March rent. Also dealing with family drama, she wasn’t at a lost for negative things to focus on. Yet, despite all of this, she couldn’t stop gushing to me about a book she’s been toiling to write and publish.
Really? With all that’s going wrong in her life, somehow this idea that has been gestating in her spirit for years continues to drift into her thoughts when she’s waiting in the doctor’s office or wakes her out of her insomniac hampered sleep?
Talk about an idea fighting to be born!
I fussed at my friend….Everybody needs a stern talking to sometimes…And told her that her true passion – the idea that refuses to go away – was starring her right in the face. All she needed to do now was to summon the courage to focus on it and bring it to life.
I also told her to put me on speed dial. Because good ideas require stamina. During the birthing process, you, the creator, and the idea, itself are going to be tested, tried, revised, scrutinized and criticized.
Not surprisingly, many ideas – and let’s face, it writers – are left to die on the side of the road during this painful development journey.
But good ideas and once in a lifetime, great ones, are worth swimming against the tide for.
So anchor yourself in your goal.
And keep writing.
Fam, is this hogwash? Are good ideas really unforgettable? I’m open for debate…