Monday 31 July 2023

Catching Your Ideas - The Creative Process


Many years ago, when Mx. K was very small, they would always ask me how I caught my ideas. I don't think it was that they thought that I literally had to go out and catch them, but that the thought of writing a whole book, or more, intrigued them. Even now, as an adult, and writing their own stories, I wonder if they realise just how well they summed up the creative process.

For me, ideas have always been there. Some times they're more elusive than others, but everything you do as a writer involves an idea starting here or there. I've talked about plot bunnies before (found here, and here) and I've talked about how I personally take an idea and make it into something, but I don't think I've ever really talked about catching them, because even in childlike wonder, I realise that's what I do. I catch ideas, I pin them down, I write them, and then, as an author, I publish them and set them free to find the very people that those ideas resonate with on a deep level.

Ideas have always been a part of my life. Even as a child myself, I would think up the story that went with seeing some kind of exchange in public, whether it was someone shouting, or whether it was a baby crying, or people laughing. All of these would bring about ideas and stories in my head. I don't think that's something that's special about me, or even writers, I think every child, usually, has some kind of story running their head. It's more that for some of us, we grow out of that stage, and for others, we just don't. Instead we make it the way we earn a living.

I 'caught' my first proper idea when I was a teenager. I'd been writing 'books' with a friend and had this idea that had gotten deep under my skin and wouldn't let me go. Only the friend I was writing with thought it was a silly idea and it kinda got brushed to one side. I didn't stop catching them though, but that one idea stayed there, dormant and ready for me to use the moment I had the chance. I did use it, it had bloomed into a full on story to the point where it burst out of me in ten days and it ended up being my debut, Blackout.

It was the first time I'd written a book solely on my own that was actual novel length, though it wasn't the first book I wrote to completion. There were others, but they'd been written with friends, and were usually the kind of thing that if I were to read now would make me cringe. I didn't grow up wanting to be a writer per se, I grew up wanting to be a doctor, but at the same time, I kind of figured that I'd always be writing stories, just never thought they end up being read by anyone else.

I can, pretty much, remember every time I've caught an idea and where it ended up going. Sometimes it became a novel, or even a series. Other times it became a scene that I would slot into place. I have other ideas that are settled in the back of my mind but haven't yet really been wrangled into anything I can use. That's the problem with ideas, sometimes you catch them and they're not ready to be caught, they're still a little wild and all the taming in the world won't bring them to completion. Sometimes you have to let them go and stay on alert ready to catch them the next time they come around and hope they're ready for you.

Catching ideas is a hobby, but it's also something that is so deeply engrained in me that I don't think I could stop doing so. I write books for a living yes, but I tell stories because it's very much part of the core of who I am, part of my own sense of self. No matter who you are, or how you catch your ideas, or whether you write them down and share them, or just keep them for yourself, there is something special about knowing that what once started as a seed of something, has grown, bloomed, and blossomed into what you end up with. Keep catching them, and you may find yourself doing something you love above all else.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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