Got… To… Keep… Writing…

I’ve been writing like mad for the Phorce lately, and wanted to talk about ideas.

I like to write when I have ideas. Who doesn’t? It’s great to sit down with a notebook and scribble a lot of words because you’re feeling inspired. But the fact is that more ideas come when you are writing than when you aren’t. Because you’re thinking about where your story should go next, you start getting brainwaves that tell you all sorts of cool things. You feel like stopping in the middle of the sentence you’re in and starting a whole new paragraph out of the idea you just had. But this kind of idea doesn’t just jump out at you during the long dark teatime of the soul (four o’clock on Sunday afternoons, according to Douglas Adams). Those ideas jump out at you when you’re pursuing other ones. They want your attention, and as long as they think that you aren’t giving any other ideas any attention, they’ll be lazy. But once you act on one idea, all the others want in and pound your head in an effort to get the attention you’re wasting on their unworthy brethren.

So listen, all you writers I know who are stuck in the middle of a story and don’t want to write any more because you don’t have ideas *coughcoughAllegraandpossiblyErincough*. The problem isn’t that you don’t have ideas; the problem is that you aren’t using making any other ideas jealous enough to get in your face. Once they do get jealous, you’ll be off and running like the evil ice cream man is after you with a box of carnivorous crayons.

One idea leads to another. This is never so true as when you’re writing. You’ve got two people stuck in a blimp miles above nowhere and all of a sudden it occurs to you: you could be having a lot more fun with this if, say, you had a giant leprechaun dressed like a narwhal jump out from behind that cloud! (I’ve never had that happen, but hey, why not?)

And that last thing to remember is this: never throw away an idea, even if it seems stupid. After all, anything inspirational is just irrational, but with an insp! Those irrational thoughts are your friends. Rational thoughts are enemies, like the ones that say “You’re no good. Quit writing.” It might be rational, but that doesn’t mean you have to do what it says.

Defeat the evil ice cream man. Start writing. Pretty soon ideas will be slapping you upside the head like there’s no tomorrow.

Leave a comment


  1. Truer words have never been spoken. Well, maybe they have, but I just can’t think of them at the moment. I took your advice on my post on inspiration to heart and forced myself to sit back down to edit on my novel–and it worked! It was laborious at first, but now I’m off and running with a whole new perspective on where to take the story. I owe you my sincere thanks.

  2. Erin

     /  March 17, 2012

    Yes! Yes! I WILL defeat the evil ice cream man! *starts furiously writing at Murderous without stopping*

    • Good! Ditto what I said to Allegra.

      • Erin

         /  March 17, 2012

        I am happy to say that I sat down, had a word war with my sister, and wrote almost 1,000 words on Murderous. I’m feeling very good about myself now.

      • Very, very good. Competition and stubbornness make a good combination. Where is Evie now? Still staring at bushes? And what will she say next on your blog?

      • Erin

         /  March 18, 2012

        Thankfully, Evie is done staring at bushes. Now she’s breaking up a fight between two characters. I’m almost to the climax of the book. And I believe Evie will say she’s grateful that I’m writing her story again and that I’m such a nice and loving author. Well, at least, that’s what I’m hoping she’ll say.

      • Ooh! Sounds quite interesting. (I’m listening to Pirates 3 soundtrack now. It’s all right, but 1 and 2 are better.)

  3. Mello

     /  March 18, 2012

    This is pretty much what I had to do when I took on finishing my last novel. Who knew an actual character would spring up from that and make me write about her (in a different one). I am always a bit afraid of these new ideas though. Thanks for the encouraging words. I think I might get back to writing now.

  4. “Irrational with an insp” is brilliant. I needed to hear this. Thanks. The evil ice cream man is on the top of my hit list. Well, actually he’s the only person on my hit list. Whatever. Very soon he shall wake up to find himself dead. Because he can do that in my world.

    • Good. I was thinking of Vlad the Inhaler just after I wrote this, and I hope it wasn’t too obvious.

      • I don’t think it was too obvious. Only someone who’d read the Kane Chronicles would get it.

      • Well, it wasn’t even meant as a joke. I meant to ask if it sounded like I was copying Vlad. But you know, if you need to add evil ice cream men to make something funny, it’s worth it.

      • I didn’t mean to say that it was a joke. Let me rephrase myself: Only someone who’d read Kane Chronicles would see a parallel. Hmm, I’m not sure that makes anymore sense than the first time.
        I don’t think it sounded like you were copying him. Besides, I just did a Google search for “evil ice cream man” and the Kane Chronicles didn’t even show up on the first page.

      • Oh, that’s a relief. Thanks for using your Google skills to keep me feeling original!

      • You’re welcome. My Google skills are one of my biggest sources of pride.

  5. Oh, the joys and horrors of writing an idea down, and then having three million more slam you in the face so fast that you can’t possibly get them all written down before you forget pretty much all of them.


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