Creative Energy, Ideas & Writing – A musing

by dantewilde


I’ve spent the day thinking about story ideas. Sometimes it’s an organic process and will wake me up in the middle of the night, other times I have to think. Then I came across this blog post and it got me thinking, maybe, just maybe I’m too tired to write. It isn’t something I’ve often considered, but it is very possible.

I’m getting to bed earlier and earlier and still getting up just as early, though not to write  (unfortunately New Zealand hates its artists – but that’s a story for another time). That got me thinking, because my mind is always shifting, sorting, creating and re-sorting the ideas, that the ideas aren’t coming because it’s time to relax. I’ll be the first to admit that my novel is suffering, which was the first sign. Does your inner writer ever relax?

Having been posed the question a week or so ago ‘where do your ideas come from?’ I found the answer I never expected, I have no idea. They grow from deep within my mind, the initial idea will force its way out, or spark like shock therapy in my brain. After that, the various influences will shape it and smooth out the edges, be they social, political or economic, originating from an injustice or an intellectual frustration (Obama the super – brand). Yet the process doesn’t and cannot work in the reverse order. I can’t take an intellectual frustration and turn it into fiction without a setting, time period and even a character. I finished the prologue to Junky on the train, before that Naomi Klein’s No Logo  and no matter how much I know the knowledge it’s self won’t spark an idea.

The, to steal a phrase, creative well is in dire need of replenishing. But if an idea can arrive like lighting, does it take a tempest to create one in the first place? Ideas are the essence of living at least for writers, without our ideas we are nothing. I was talking to a journalist and was told that ‘anybody can be taught to write, it isn’t something you’re born to do’ Christopher Hitchens once said ’write the way you speak.’ The first quote is entirely contextual, anyone can learn to be a journalist, but I don’t think you can teach someone to have an idea. As for the second, well, I’m doing it now. Writing this and having an schizophrenic-esque conversation with myself. I also find in fiction that to a degree I write like I speak. I don’t mean this in the sense of my writer’s voice but in the sense of accessibility, people won’t read something they can’t understand – no matter how good the story.  My point here is this; fiction writing is either something you can do or something you can’t (you can be the judge of where I fall) and coming up with ideas, whether they are organic or stem from a poem, news article, lyric, or so forth is also something you can either do, or you can’t. Of course, this fluctuates as writers we seem to drop in and out of relevance depending on whether we have ideas or not.