The other day while in the shower, an idea bubbled to the surface of my brain. It’s often during mundane, routine tasks that these little flashes pop up for me – showering, driving somewhere into town from the boonies, pulling weeds, checking the bees, mowing part of the property, transplanting seedlings, and so on. I’ve heard (and read) this happens to other people as well, as a byproduct of the mind being able to wander away from the task at hand and not have to focus 100% on that task, freeing up the thought processes that are (for me, anyway) constantly churning through ideas and possibilities, whether they are related to the current WIP or not. This particular idea occurred ti me, and then several days later, I saw an ad on tv in the midst of the Olympics coverage for a new series that was in the same general vein, but much more macro on the subject than the micro that occurred to me would be much more interesting. I won’t go more into the idea itself right now, as that isn’t what this is really about – it’s more about those sorts of serendipitous moments when two parts of the universe crash together.
People ask where writers get their ideas, but I think the better question is how a writer gets their ideas. Ideas? They’re everywhere. Ideas are cheap. The process of stitching together various idle-thinking things, though: that’s where the ideas really happen. Sometimes those pieces come together quickly. Sometimes they may take years, or even decades. The thoughtful artist merely needs to pay attention to the world and drop the things they see or read or hear into the mental hopper and let the brain tumble them about without interfering or actively chewing on them like a dog with its favorite toy. Relax. Let your brain sort it out. When it gets to the point where the recipe has been made and it begins to come to the forefront of your mind more and more, you’ll know it’s not just that the pieces of the recipe have come together, but that it also has staying power, the good pieces kept and the other pieces left by the side of the mental road (at least for this idea) on the journey.