Running out of ideas! I’m sure I can’t be the only writer who worries that their most recent idea is their last. It’s the kind of thing I wake up in a cold sweat at 3am thinking about!
I have always written for pleasure. It doesn’t matter when the muse takes you then. You just go with the flow and enjoy the ride because there is no external pressure on you to produce anything. But when I started taking things a bit more seriously about 5 years ago, all that changed. I still massively enjoyed that feeling of getting lost in a story and losing all track of time but it was quite stressful sometimes waiting for inspiration to strike.
Then I heard about Storystorm from some of my critique group friends who had done it last year. The idea is that you register and then for the month of January you try to come up with an idea per day. Along the way there are daily blogs in case you are in need of inspiration and a Facebook page where you can chat to other people taking part. I was a bit dubious, I must confess. Could I really come up with an idea per day? Wouldn’t I just be placing myself under more pressure?
Initially, my suspicions were confirmed when I started to see posts appearing on Facebook from people who had already had 97 brilliant ideas before breakfast on day one. My friends wisely counselled me to stop reading those posts and to concentrate on the idea generation bit.
And, as the month has gone on, I have found to my surprise that I am keeping up. I have managed to write down something everyday. Sometimes it’s just an idea for a character or a vague concept or even just a sentence or word I like. But they’re all seeds for potential stories that I can come back to. You would think that with a PhD where I looked at habit formation I would know that anything can become a habit! It turns out that thinking of ideas can be habitual too! Some of my ideas will come to nothing but at this stage I am beginning to see that this is about quantity, not quality. That comes later, I hope!
I’m finding that the ideas come from all over the place. A tweet, an overheard conversation, a chance remark by a friend, the news. It turns out that they’re everywhere! I just needed some focus to recognise them as potential ideas and get into the habit of writing them down. Thank you Tara Lazar and Storystorm for this rather wonderful scheme. I’m sleeping a lot better!