Monday 6 June 2022

Keeping Your Ideas Fresh - The Creative Process



The hardest part of being a writer for me these days is thinking up new ideas. I have found that as I've gotten older and written more books, I have really struggled with getting the idea seeds that I've planed to grow into anything. Right now I have about twenty of them in a folder, but no idea what to do with them. I want to be able to turn them into something, but I'm worried, sometimes, that maybe my ideas just don't excite me any more because they've been done, and I've written all the ideas that I'm ever going to have.

Of course, part of me is very aware that isn't true. You don't get a set amount of book ideas and then once you've written it, you're done. I could and should consider the fact that the last couple of years have been very hard for me, as they have for a lot of people with the plague and all that comes with it. I mean, it's not over with, it's still out there, and with the chronic conditions that I have, it's a very real fear to avoid.

Maybe it's just that I'm a little burned out from not having a proper, full night of sleep in a long time, and I need time to let those ideas germinate and grow without me poking my head in every so often to check on them. I have never, at any point, gotten to the stage where I have nothing. I have never gotten to the point where it comes to drafting a couple of new projects and I don't know where to go, what to write. Of course that can, bring its own problems, but it's also something that I am beyond grateful for.

I don't know about you, but being a writer, an author, is very much part of my core identity. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't write. One of my biggest fears as a writer is losing the ability because of my chronic health conditions and disabilities. It's nowhere close to happening, and if I couldn't type, then I would dictate, I would find a way. That's not meant as me being some inspiration or something, it's just as part of me as music is to any musician. It's who I am, it's in my blood, bones and DNA.

But how do I keep the ideas coming, and how do I make sure that they're not tired and boring and something that even I, as the writer, wouldn't want to read? I've given this a lot of thought over the years and I think it all boils down to three things: the character, the changing point, and where the idea will take me. I'll go into all three in a bit more detail in a moment, but what I'm saying is that as I'm no planner, and as I do a whole lot of discovery writing, it's not something that I have to know inside and out before I start writing.


I find that I resonate better with first person, so that character is going to be the main one, the voice of the story, the one whose head I will have to dive into and get to know along the way. Sometimes I look back at first drafts and I know, on a deep level, how long it took me to find their voice. There are some turns of phrase that will haunt my writing life because they were so bad!

Some writers will swear that you have to plot or plan, and that you have to know your character long before you jump in to writing them. I'm not one of them, and if you are, and it works for you, that's great. But for me, the character is what will draw me most to an idea. If I could work out what they're wanting and doing, and who they are as a person, then the rest comes a lot easier.

This is the driving force for an idea. If you've got a character and nothing happens to them, then you don't have a plot. It's as simple as that. There has to be a moment when that character has a massive switch in their life. Either they witness something that changes their beliefs, or makes them want to help someone, or any myriad of reasons. Once that changing point is known to me, the rest will fall into place easily.

This is something that the plot seeds do not always give me. While they will, usually, give me some idea of the character, they don't always tell me what that changing point is and it's frustrating because until I have an idea of what it is, I can't move forward.


I don't mean that the idea will be taking me to new places and new characters, I mean the genre. If I know that something is going to be paranormal/mystery or urban fantasy, or dystopian or any other genre I've written, then I have something to work with. I know that the character and the changing point will need to fit that genre. It narrows the field, allows me to, to keep with the seed analogy, add the right food and fertilizer to it and allow it to slowly, slowly, turn into something I can work with.

While it sounds like this is the most important, it's not. It's usually one of the ones that comes to be last, but when it does, it's amazing to experience. It's like I just got new glasses and the fuzziness becomes sharp once again.

So those are my three, those are the things that I need to have some idea about before I can even begin to do the minimal planning that I do. Like I said, I don't need all three, I don't need everything to be clear and perfect in my head, I don't work that way, but knowing hints and some of it will really help me craft the best first draft it can be.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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