Phil: Last week, Candice and I met up at Shakespeare’s birthplace to enjoy an over-priced jacket spud and pannini just across the road from where Willy S was born. Work on Book 2 has stalled and we need an infusion of imagination, inspiration and baked beans. The later came from the spud, the former from conversation. When we get together the ideas seem to flow so much more freely than when communication has to be by e-mail.
Maybe it’s just us, but while electronic chatter is good, it never seems to match the banter of face-to-face.
Anyway, the ideas we bashed around are for more short stories. We enjoyed writing Kate vs The Potter (have you read it yet, it’s free from the left hand side of this page !) and fancy honing our craft on a few more. Not just with the characters from the book either, the Grazzia story entry is going to be unearthed and re-worked considerably to be the tale we always wanted it to be. In other words, longer than the rules allowed. Hopefully this will allow it to breath a bit more. There are others too – I have what I think is a brilliant idea for a Dr Who episode – and since the look across the table wasn’t of the “you are mad Parker” variety, it might see the light of day.
Ideas are the writers stock in trade. Everyone who commits words to paper or screen needs to generate a constant stream of them. No ideas, no words, no work. That’s why we dread writers block.
The trouble is it’s either feast or famine. I write a column for a model-making magazine where each month I build something and illustrate the process step-by-step. This has been going on for nearly 3 years which means every month, without fail, I have to come up with a new project that fits the format. 6 weeks ago I was worried. I had run out of ideas. Without repeating myself I couldn’t think how to fill the pages. Then a chance find on a website, ironically of a photo I had taken, got me going again. A few days later I’d e-mailed my editor a list of possibles and since he sent me a parcel containing one of the raw materials I’d requested, I took this as an acceptance.
Elsewhere I was shocked to discover the similarly subjected blog I write was heading for its 2000th post. In 6 years, I’ve generated lots of words and possibly even some useful information. More importantly, it has kept my creative engine running whatever else I’ve been up to. On leaving a “proper” job I set myself the task of writing a post a day. That process forced me to be creative and more importantly, got me writing regularly. And if you’ve ever stared at the blank screen wondering what to say, you know that the best thing to do is bang the keys and see what happens. You might just be recreating the infinite number of monkeys writing Shakespeare experiment but who knows where it can lead ? The best thing about blog posts is they are supposed to be short and you can just check them on the Interweb without worrying too much.
So, my advice (if you want it) is, if you are struggling to become an ideas factory, get a blog. Title it up as an experiment or writing dump and then set yourself a target of 3 posts a week. Stick to this and you’ll find other ideas bursting out of your frontal lobes. Or at least enjoy the fooling around.