I'll start with the caveat. I don't find ideas difficult. Sure they come in mysterious cycles, vary in their quality and potential, but they come and frequently enough - from every hour to every other day. Some people are like me, some are not. So, I address this more to those like me, who don't have too much difficulty with the ideas and who find the harder work in the execution.
For those who don't find it easy, I'll most likely share the ideas that work for me in another post. But I believe it's likely a very individual thing; a mix of cultivating the habits and a genetic predisposition, among others. Basically, if I didn't have writing to channel my musings and to see where they go, I'd be a bullshit fantasist sat with pint in the corner of a pub, possibly on his own.
Okay. So, one of the most common pieces of writing advice is this: Write your ideas down. Or record them, etc. And I do. And I'm not going to say don't. But what I will say is really, really don't worry if you don't. Don't panic.
My phone is full of recordings. Of those ideas that come to me as I walk down the streets of Bangkok, along its noisy roads and across its canals. Walking really helps me. I think it's something to do with the rhythm of my stride as well as the chanced upon observations of people going about their days. My Notes app also dates back a couple of years, an abundance of what-if inspirations.
And yet I'll never read or listen to most of them ever again.
Because ideas come and go all the time. And if you don't record or get them down, then who cares. Perhaps it'll return if it was that good. And if it doesn't there'll be another. And then another.
The danger, as I see it, is this: To give your ideas sanctity. To revere them. To possess hte as if they are yours. To treat them like they can't be lost. That once caught they must be pinned down, and to give this the utmost importance.
Because I believe that if you don't, well, I believe two things.
One, if good enough it'll return. It may well stay, at least for a few days, perhaps weeks, months. For me, I'll often let it linger so from it further ideas are reproduced. Of course, if these ideas multiply at an increasingly rapid rate I'd say it's time to get pen to paper and relase that momentum in the beginnings of a story, sometimes a full first draft.
Two. More importantly, you'll get more ideas. It's not a superstition and I have no science to back it up, but I believe that if you fixate too much on an idea, or rahter on having an idea, it makes them that much harder to come by. I once heard a meditation teacher so not to try too hard to give it a 3 out of 10 in concentration. I think that might also apply here, at least in the beginning stages. That if one tries too hard, it gets harder. That if you just let some pass on by, you'll have more to choose from.
Right now I have three ideas stewing in my mind, and I really like the potential of all three. One's from a month ago, one from last week and another is fresh today. I think they even want to come together, creating the character and the world they want to inhabit. And I really enjoy that. It's building, and yet I'm stil holding back. I am its opposing force, it's antithesis. Because when I let it out, it's really going to flow.
Sounds almost sexual I know. But then it is an act of creation.
And that's when I enjoy writing the most.
Well, not completely true. I also love redrafting. But that's a different feeling. More like a wonderful, loving relationship than a fantastic one night stand.
Of course, whether the product, the story, is any good, well, that's a different problem.
But I believe nothing has been wasted.
Lastly, I don't suffer writer's block. But I do have frustrating days when I want to write something, when I want to engage in that initial thrill of Yes! Yes! I like where this is going!, and yet there's nothing going. I suppose at such times I could finally go through that backlog of notes and voice recordings. And I have done before. But in truth, I just wait it out by redrafting or writing a blog piece like this, a different type of writing. And I tell myself, it will come. Just listen to the outside world, of friends and strangers and read the news or the latest thinking, and watch what is happening on the cinema screen or the city streets.
But most importantly, don't try too hard, put one foot in front of the other, and keep on walking.