Ideas–The Writer’s Frame of Mind

I’m sure, if you’re a writer, you’ve been asked where you get your ideas. And no matter how you answer, I’m also sure the true answer is both “Who knows? ” and “Everywhere!” That’s because you have to be going out of your way to not find ideas wherever you go, wherever you look. With the right frame of mind–the writer’s frame of mind–ideas are the easiest part of the entire process.

What is the writer’s frame of mind? Simple. That’s where you see potential stories everywhere you look. You see two kids enraptured by something in the grass. Did they find a tiny alien? A camouflaged doorway that leads to the bowels of the earth? An injured fairy? You see a vanity licence plate that you can’t quite decipher. Is it code for a secret society? Dew dances off a spider web in the morning light. Is that web really made of crystal? It could mean a terrifying tale of a new breed of killer spiders, or a humorous take on bumblers trying to make a buck off simple web they think is diamond. Someone drops a letter into a mailbox. Maybe it’s a ransom note. Maybe it’s a “Dear John” letter. Or it could be a strange correspondence with the mail box creature. You get the picture. When you’re in the writer’s frame of mind, you’ll see potential in everything, from the truly strange to the absolutely mundane.

What should you do with these ideas once you get them? I used to be a proponent of an idea notebook, where I’d jot down these gems as soon as I got them, be it a sentence, a paragraph, or a full page. I quickly filled notebooks with more ideas than I’d ever have the chance to use. I’ve since decided, however, that this type of notebook is mostly pointless. I put ideas in, but more often than not, all they’d do is become stale. Why use that old idea when I have a half-dozen fresh ones at my fingertips? Now, if I can’t get to it immediately,  I find it best to put the “can’t miss” idea on a scrap of paper and leave it at my writing desk. If I haven’t done anything with it in a week or two, I toss it. My thinking is, if I wasn’t compelled into working the idea into something wonderful yet, it couldn’t have been that great of an idea. And if I’m wrong, I don’t need that piece of paper to remind me of it; it’ll continue to worm its way into my subconscious until I’m absolutely ready to mold it into a story.

Next time you’re in the market for a new idea, open your eyes and put yourself into the writer’s frame of mind. You’ll soon see it’s impossible not to find plenty of super ideas to write about, no matter what genre you dabble in. Now go spin a great tale!

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About ericjkrause

I am a speculative fiction writer, who writes flash fiction, short stories, and novel-length work. I have a few ebooks available, and am working on finding an agent and publisher for my current project. I am also hard at work on future novels.

Posted on August 17, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You have a great imagination! I especially like the “strange correspondence with the mail box creature” idea. What you describe in this post is one of the true joys of writing, i.e. finding stories in the world and, also, finding oneself in those stories just as the plot is thickening. Good advice about the scrap of paper and that gives me a story idea!

  2. Eric this is a fresh way of looking at the ideas notebook that most writers tote around. I tend to use mine to capture a descriptive phrase as I forget them if I don’t. I usually look through my notes when I’m writing and am grasping for a description. Your method works for the de-cluttering of the workspace. You’re right. Ideas are everywhere we don’t have to go looking!

    Denise

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