The Elusive Fresh Idea

Fog in the Grand Canyon.

Fog in the Grand Canyon.

Lately, I’ve been sitting down at 10 p.m to write the blog and a soft white fog drifts over my brain. The more I run through the fog to find a sturdy idea, the thicker the fog gets.  The more elusive the good idea.

Maybe getting up early to take care of the cats has shifted my creative time to a different time slot.

And like all changes, it took me a while to figure it out. I would often sit, as most writers will, staring at the screen trying to generate ideas that become suddenly slippery and elusive. Like a fish you can’t quite land in the boat.

Of course, when I am writing other things, the ideas leap out of the water and Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 6.34.16 PMgrin at me. When I am pinning down one idea, a hundred others flash across my peripheral vision and slide back into the dark.

This morning I tried something new. Writing a workbook for a client, I had an idea for the blog. Normally, I will think, “that’s a great idea, I’ll use it later.” But when I rummage around my short-term memory for the exact idea, it’s not there. There are scattered prayer cores and rinds of old, used-up ideas. There are a few bones of earlier ideas, some with meat still on them. But not blog-meat. Workbook meat. Slim pickings for the blog.

I turned back to the workbook. Then had a new idea. I opened the blog to “new



post” and then turned back to the workbook. The next idea spark that flashed across the dark sky of my imagination, I clicked over to the blog and jotted down the idea, gave it a title that would remind me what the idea was, saved it as a draft and went back to the workbook. Idea saved.

When the blog needs writing, I can pick from an idea I like and write it up. Of course I could use the idea recorder on my phone, or use the to-do list that’s next to the computer, but clicking over to another screen and capturing an idea is both fast and there when I need it.

It also works for  saving other ideas, too.  Instead of a blog, you can have a notepage open. Then when the title for your next book streaks across your mind, or that great reply you should have said to that remark at lunch, write them down.

What? A clever reply to a reply from hours ago? Sure. It makes great dialogue in your next story.

–Quinn McDonald writes what she thinks.

8 thoughts on “The Elusive Fresh Idea

  1. I jsut wish my thoughts would go to my computer . . . I could visualise a screen opening, the words would go down and it would all happen remotely while I’m driving or walking the beach. And sometimes I think I should just expand my comments here and use them for a blog post. Quickly, write it down somewhere because you know you’ll forget it Wendy!

  2. I have always been a note keeper but I find I have a need for it more as I get older. Sometimes I have trouble just bringing a word to mind mid sentence. My grocery list, my idea list, my chore list, all have taken up residence on those wonderful long narrow magnetic notepads on my refrigerator. I section it off for each trip to town which is fifteen miles away, so nothing is forgotten. Now getting all of it done is another story.

    • I have to rely more on notes, too. The other day, after making a mistake, I thought, “If I were 30, it would be called an error of multi-tasking and stress.” But I’m not 30, not even 40, so now it’s “You are senile. . . .” I don’t think I’m less focused, just more busy. So, like you, I love my notes.

  3. I often get the most brilliant ideas during meditation. Since we are supposed to just focus on present moment and let thoughts just flutter away, I’ve taken to praising my brain for such good ideas and asking brain to bring that thought to mind as soon as I get into the studio/at my desk. Oddly enough, brain usually complies. I am amazed at how beautifully, dazzlingly helpful my brain has been of late. Still, I carry around the tiny notebook to jot down ideas and images…because that works too! Great post.

  4. I started doing this about a week ago with our biz blog – part of The Plan this year to get it going full blast. It’s working brilliantly for me so far – word fragments that are mostly gibberish to anyone else but bring it all back to me quickly and easily.

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.