I’m Going Crazy and You’re Probably Already There
The endless pursuit of writing ideas sometimes turns into an overwhelming attempt to capture every tidbit of information that flows through your eyes and ears. The result can be sheer and utter madness!
Life used to be so simple before I started spending time writing. The daily need for subject ideas sends my left eye to twitching. The funny thing is that most of the ideas are already floating around in my grayish matter, they just need a little push to make its way to my fingertips.
My mind feels like an insatiable sponge lately, desperately deciphering and funneling the deluge of information that’s everywhere.
Everything I read. Every sign on a door. Labels on cans. Nutrition information on candy bars. Things yelled at me by impatient drivers. Things I yell at others in return (don’t tell my wife). People talking to themselves on street corners. The kid ringing me up at Seven-11. My dogs (don’t ask). My kid’s pets (again, don’t ask). My grandkids. My wife when she talks to me. My wife when she talks at me. My wife when she telepathically wants me to know something (again, again, don’t ask).
These are all times where I find little seeds for future stories. The only problem is the scramble to write them down before my mind switches to the next important thing, like changing lanes on the freeway (see comment about people yelling at me and my response).
I have a method for writing things down, but they usually involve adding a quick note in Evernote on my phone; I have an “Ideas” notebook section.
Inopportune times can be so, well, inopportune! Luckily my wife has become sympathetic to my goldfish-like memory and is willing to type my idea into my phone for me when I’m the one driving. She’s known me long enough that she doesn’t need to question what I ask her to write down; no matter how bizarre. From a couple of twisted words, I’m able to piece together a story idea that was festering in mind.
A great example was my story titled, “Editing With a Machete.” We were driving back home to Las Vegas from a trip to California. I think we were listening to some 80s music and I was daydreaming a little (multitasking while driving, don’t judge).
I was thinking about my writing and editing (my least favorite thing). My main thought was the importance of removing large sections of writing if they detract from the overall story or point. I thought about a scalpel and then progressed through to the idea of using a machete. Brilliant!
I had to get this thought out of my head and into a safe place where it wouldn’t die from another thought taking its place, like wanting another square of Hershey’s chocolate…mmm, chocolate. Wait, see what I mean?!?
Time to call in my writing support team…
“Hey babe,” I said to my wife, while my hands remained on the steering wheel, and paying super-attention to my driving (see, multitasking).
“Yes,” she said lovingly, adoring every minute we get to spend together and seeing the love in my eyes for her.
“Could you write an idea down for me in my phone?”
“Sure,” she almost sang, knowing that her husband is a brilliant writer who should never discard a thought.
“Could you just write ‘Editing With a Machete’ as the title, that’s it,” I offered with a brilliant flair of artistic genius.
“Got it,” she typed and set my phone back into the car’s center console. She gazed back again at me and contemplated the amazing decision she had made to ask me to marry her (okay, that didn’t really happen).
So I ask you, is this crazy? If so, are you living on the other side of the same crazy-writer island that I am? Thought you looked familiar!
Your ideas can come from anywhere. Find a way to record them. I’m not going to suggest how you do that, there are a million money-making stories on Medium about “3 Ways to Brainstorm Ideas by Wearing Tinfoil on Your Head” or something disturbingly similar.
The most important thing is to write it down. When I sit down to write–and it’s not about a specific idea that I luckily had time to write out–I go to my “Ideas” folder and scroll through some of my past ideas. Some are almost done. Some just have a title and one line to prompt me a little further. A couple just need a few good pictures to before a final read-through.
More than anything, my ideas were captured for use later. I didn’t trust that they would remain in the same area of my brain where I lost my keys or forgot what I went into the kitchen to get.
So make life a little easier on “your side” of the island and WRITE IT DOWN! And one more little thing, try and keep the noise down, I’m trying to write over here!!!
Also published on Medium.