My muse is a tease

My muse has been distracting me this week. I have been teased with images of exotic locales that want to be settings in new stories. This happens to me every time I open my mind up to creating, which is what I have been doing this week. Suddenly I am teased by random pieces of inspiration whether they be, images, words, articles, media – you name it but the doors to inspiration are wide open.

I read an article today that says the average brain has 12 000 thoughts every day and it can run to having up to 60 000 thoughts a day. This does not come as a surprise. Our brains are always off on tangents even when and especially when we are supposed to be concentrating and working. I know mine is.

People always want to know where story ideas come from. It is the no. 1 question that readers like to ask writers and even writers like to ask other writers. My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, the ordinary, the mundane, the strange and the extraordinary. I have had ideas come to me in vivid dreams. I have heard something on the radio, watched something on television or read something and it has sparked an idea. But the main thing that always starts me on the scent of a new story is: What if? I love teasing out the answers to that mysterious question.

I am lucky enough that I am never short of story ideas. I have two huge lever arch files of story ideas and story inspirations. But the annoying part is that my story ideas come to me while I am working on another current story idea. They never wait their turn politely. Unfortunately too I have a low patience meter so the minute a new idea comes to me I really, really want to drop everything and play with the new idea.

Is this wrong? Should I rather ignore it?

No, ignoring it does not make it go away instead just the opposite. If I actively try to ignore the new story idea, I can think of nothing else. Believe me I know this from experience. Even if I fill my waking hours with work and distraction, the idea will enter my sleep. It tugs at me constantly.

So I have now learnt that the most effective way to deal with new story ideas, to quieten their cries of need just long enough to hear myself think is to write them down and then file them. This way they feel acknowledged and don’t take their creative anger out on me or my sleep. Instead after writing the idea down, I can get to work on the story I am meant to be working on and that new idea has a chance to percolate in the to-be-done file of my imagination.

  • Pinterest is a fantastic tool to accomplish this. I can pin an image from the post that caught my attention and that way I can go back to that article when I am ready to play with it. Pinterest is also fantastic if you are more a visual thinker than a verbal thinker.
  • Evernote is fantastic for quick note taking/idea filing. I have the application downloaded onto both my laptop and my iPod so that even if I get an idea from a dram I can roll over, pick up my iPod and without turning on the light type in the note.
  • Then I also have my trusty Moleskine notebooks: I have a bright green version for my new story ideas and a deep blue one for my current WIPs. (Any excuse to buy more stationery 😉 )

I am truly thankful for an abundance of story ideas but I need to teach my muse to be more disciplined and to wait his turn in bringing me the ideas. But it is a catch-22 because I would hate to get to the spot that I don’t get ideas any more. So for this week, I have shelved the new story idea (it is a very tantalizing one) to percolate and see what comes of it.

Now it is back to work on the stories that need to be written and worked on.

Do you find you have too many ideas clamoring for attention?

How do you handle the new ideas that you just don’t have the time for?

Where have your ideas come from?

11 thoughts on “My muse is a tease

  1. Great post. 🙂 Like you, I often get new ideas that make me itch to write them. But from experience, I learned that it’s not a good idea to work on more than one WIP at a time (at one point I had 10 WIPs and did not finish a single one). So I just store them in a notebook for future reference.

    1. Hi Zen 🙂

      I just checked out your blog and signed up to follow.
      This is why I still love the blogging world – you get to meet fellow writers who all have their own interesting stories.
      My WIPs will not shut up – if I don’t work on them I will have no sleep and for an insomniac I need to treasure every minute of sleep that I can get. 😉

      Lovely to “meet” you and thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. Wow I’m not much of a “professional writer” or anything but this blog seems really neat. I do enjoy writing and ruminating many times a day (not that i can help it). I’m not quite sure what this blog is all about but it sure seems to have valuable information.

  3. I am overly determined, and keep on the same path, often to a fault. If I set out to tidy the yard, I work until I get heat exhaustion. If I set to clean the house, I find myself scrubbing the baseboards and windows on a day when I meant to do regular cleaning. When I write, I write doggedly. Ideas for other works come to me, but I tend to set them aside. My rule is if they are still rattling around in my creative conscious a month or more later, then I write them in an ideas notebook. Otherwise, they didn’t withstand the test of time and weren’t worthy candidates.

  4. This is a very pertinent post: I’m trying to finish my current WIP, but am tormented by another vivid idea that just will not go away. I’ve given in and am splitting my writing time between the WIP and the unformed new idea. This is not a very tidy solution, I know, and I suppose there’s a chance that it might detract from both works – they both deserve my full attention!

    My ideas come from everywhere. Conversations, chance encounters, dreams, TV, music, images – everything is inspirational when you look at it through a writer’s eyes.

    1. Mari, I’m really excited to hear you have two WIPs! I am sure it’s tough to balance both, but as a reader who loves your writing, this just makes my day. And, yes, my ideas come from the same Everywhere; the mind becomes attuned to noticing things when you are open to the creative inspiration.

    2. I would agree with Mari if that works for you. Depends on your schedule and if your brain will allow it. I had the idea for my second novel started about one year after I finished the first draft of my first novel, but I felt like I could never give it the attention it needed until I “finished” my first. Turns out that was about six more years. Talk about percolating 🙂

      What I’ve been doing recently is to split my time between new WIP and editing short stories. That sort of compromise seems to work for me and I hope will be good practice for working on more than one WIP at a time, because I’m guessing most professional writers do this. But who knows? I’d be curious.

      As to your other question, I have multiple files on my computer that start out with the file name “story idea:”. I also have multiple scraps of paper spread from here to Sunday.

      Paul D. Dail A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  5. Great post, my mind too wanders from one random thought to another! Also thanks for the pinterest suggestion, being a visual thinker, this may be a better solution than copying and pasting images onto a word document!!! – I really need to get up with the times.
    Where do ideas come from? Sometimes from dreams, sometimes a random thought appears when driving or doing housework. Once I’ve got the idea down, I try to ignore it, and focus on my main project….otherwise I never finish anything…

  6. Yes, I know exactly where you’re coming from. Hoorah for moleskin notebooks, I say! My trouble is that I write down an idea *for later* and have this sub-consious idea that I’ll forget so I keep writing, the scribble becomes a few hundred words and then a thousand and all of a sudden, I haven’t touched my WIP for hours. Self-discipline and confidence in our ability to remember we need, but it’s hard when our brain’s off on that 60,000 thoughts a day track, isn’t it! Great post!

  7. You deal with your plot bunnies the same way I do. I have a lovely Scrivener file waiting to nurture them until I’m ready to deal with them.

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