Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ideas & Inspiration

Dear Fellow Writer,

The Write Stuff is my first writing course in almost two years - and there are tips and tricks in it I've never told anyone!

We live in a different world from the authors of the past. We must learn to adapt if we're to achieve writing success that will support us.

Even with publishers and book stores closing down around us, there are new and fabulous opportunities arising... but are you ready?

Be prepared - get ahead of the game.

Keep Writing!
Rob Parnell

Ideas & Inspiration

Rob Parnell

There are two opposing viewpoints when it comes to getting ideas for artistic projects - views that seem diametrically opposed.

The first, the most common, is that good ideas are somehow hard to find. That unless you are divinely inspired - something that only happens rarely - ideas do not come easily and no amount of thinking will result in anything worthy of development or time spent on them. This is usually the view of the beginner.

At the other end of the spectrum, your average full time artist will often complain that there are far too many good ideas and that the real problem is choosing which one to focus on.

How can these two extremes both be true?

It's a question of practice.

But not just because the more you work with ideas, the more seem to occur to you - though this is true.

But also because if you have an unquestioned belief that good ideas are always all around you, this notion in itself will tend to manifest as your reality.

Because it's not ideas per se, or the lack of them, that is the problem. It's you own personal belief in whether you have the inclination or drive or talent to develop those ideas that's important. 

A beginner may have the idea that she should write a love story that seems different enough to work on. This may remain a vague idea until the work begins. Hence the idea remains nebulous.

But the artist who has experience finishing projects will know that working on an idea that has even the most limited merit could result in something solid, which they can almost 'see' in their mind's eye.

It's really a question of perspective. 

With practice, that is the actual development of projects - and the use of your mind, body and soul in the actual creation of things - your intellect becomes attuned to the head space that recognizes ideas.

The fact is there are no new ideas. None.

What is new is your own personal interaction with an idea. That is what is unique.

You can see this happening in any writing workshop. I've tried the following at my day seminars.

Ask twelve writers to develop a story based around the words ice and forest, for instance, and you will get twelve different story ideas.

What the beginner does is usually think of the most obvious thing to do with the trigger words.

An experienced artist - who is usually aware of 'what has been done before' will go further. He/she will often discount a series of ideas until they settle on one that is fresh - or at least sufficiently different enough to inspire them.

That doesn't mean the idea is then original. It just means that the artist is satisfied he/she is not digging up old ground or glossing up an old facade.

The result, even if not a wholly original invention, will be an idea that is fresh in its execution.

It's hard thing to put your finger on. Publishers, agents and producers often say they want 'freshness' as though it's something an artist can merely add spontaneously to an artistic project. Like sprinkling sugar on cornflakes.

If that were the case it would make things so much easier!

No, freshness is mostly a value judgment apportioned after the event.

But the best way to achieve some degree of freshness is to go through this process of rejecting ideas until you hit on one that appears new.

But then the beginner is in a dilemma.

If he/she only has one good idea a year, how can they reject it? What happens if another one doesn't come along anytime soon?

But this is to misunderstand the idea creation process.

You can't wait to start work until after you have a good idea. You'd have a very long wait for one thing. Even working artists know this.

You just have to get to work.

You have to start using your mind on anything and everything, even if it's the least inspired thing you can think of. 

Inspiration comes after the beginning of the work in most cases.

Right when you're in the middle of something, right when you're least expecting it, a new idea will often hit you.

It could be something minor - the way something looks when viewed from a different perspective for instance, but that can be enough.

Make a note of the observation immediately and go back to your work.

Make this process a habit and before you know it you'll have literally hundreds of ideas worthy of development in the future.

Too many most likely.

The real trick is to know which ones to work on - and why - and how - and these are some of the crucial issues I cover in The Write Stuff.

If you take your writing seriously - and dream of the day you can use your passion as a way to support you, full time, then you really do need The Write Stuff!

Keep writing!
 rob at home

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

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