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.