Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

Where do our ideas come from? Best answer: everywhere.

I’m visiting with friends and someone mentions a strange circumstance that intrigues me. Or talks about a quirky character they met. Or refers to a larger-than-life experience they read about online. These are all fodder for the idea mill.


First lesson: Be observant. Listen. Imagine how this or that can be recreated in our writing.



Sometimes good ideas slip away on me because I’m not convinced they are novel-worthy. Can I build an entire book around a particular idea? Will it really fit into my plan without messing it up? Perfectionist tendencies show up and may need to be squelched in order to give the brain free reign to imagine the possibilities.


Second lesson: Cast off perfectionist tendencies. Welcome the ideas and save them for later use.



As amazing as some of the ideas are that come to me, I have a confession to make: they often take leave as quickly as they come. I have an unfortunately poor memory. I may remember having a fantastic idea, but the gist of it is gone forever.


Third lesson: Write. It. Down. We can’t always trust our brain to remember even the most intriguing ideas. At least I can’t.





To recap:

* Observe

* Accept

* Note

Grab those ideas and run with them. They are everywhere, but they want tending.

NOTE: This post first appeared on the InScribe Professional blogsite on August 30, 2017.

ANOTHER NOTE: All photos from pixabay.com.


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lightbulbIdeas. We all have them. The point is to capture those ideas and use them to inspire, motivate, encourage and entertain others.

Some people claim to have an endless cache of ideas, which they form into stories, articles, speeches and blogs. Others bemoan a dearth of ideas, claiming they have nothing to write about. I believe the key is to grab and record the snippets that run through our minds and let them steep until they become rich with meaning and fullness.

In my opinion, there are three basic skills required to make effective use of our ideas. One is the habit of observation. What do we see, hear, smell, taste and touch that is unique, interesting or identifiable to others.observation

The second skill is analytical thinking. This requires training ourselves to see beyond the surface of what we observe, to ask the oft-hidden questions: who, what, when, where, why and how.

Our pastor is particularly skilled in observation and analytical thinking, but he also practices the third skill: application. How can an idea be translated into inspiration, motivation, encouragement, call to action? This is also a matter of habit, training and thought.

One of the chief challenges to effective and efficient use of ideas is to focus on one idea at a time. When our son was in his teens, he and several other young men were invited to present sermons in church on Sunday morning. He struggled for days with his ideas, wrote them out, practiced them in the privacy of our farm’s open spaces, but he couldn’t find the sweet spot. Until he realized he had too many tangents. When he focused on one main idea, he was away.

I would suggest that we all have enough ideas to fill our writing obligations and opportunities. What we need to practice is observation, analytical thinking and application. When we do this, we will be able to effectively and efficiently use the ideas God showers upon us.


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Today I’d like to introduce you to Andy McKell. Read about his ideas below…

Ideas to Ink

by Andy McKell

I read of a literary agent who dreaded parties. “Someone always sidles up, saying they have this great story idea, but don’t know how to write a book, and maybe one of my authors would appreciate the idea?”

The agent responds, “The problem is…” But we’ll come back to the problem.andy mckell photo

They say everyone has a book in them, it’s just getting it out into the word that’s hard. These party people have ideas – good and bad – but ideas, at least. Each wants to share, to have stories created around the skeleton of an idea, for life to be breathed into sketchy characters… They just don’t  commit to the page. So they are not writers. Not writers until they write; only aspirant authors until they publish.

What drives someone to commit thoughts into words for others to read? What is the urge to share ideas and fantasies, an urge so strong that all the hurdles fall away? It drove our ancestors since the earliest days, in cave-paintings dotted around the secret places of the world through to ancient folk-tale myths like Gilgamesh (over twenty thousand years ago).

The early storyteller was probably as much a physical actor as a wordsmith, performing action scenes, animating characters, filling the shadows with a vast supporting cast of enemies and monsters, manipulating audience emotions in real-time… and getting immediate feedback on their work.

Oh, joy! Immediate feedback; faster than the click of a speeding “Like”; more visceral than a harsh Amazon review.

The urge might be ancient, but it escaped me for a long time. A teenage science nerd, I was not in the circle around the campfire, spinning yarns. I hated creative writing. My father helped  by suggesting improvements. But my dependency grew. Finally, he dictated the entire story. I’m sure he enjoyed it. A superb yarn-spinner, he would have been a tale-telling superstar in the elder days. Sadly, my homework differed so much from my classwork, my teacher remarked, “Tell your father his work is improving.”

For my degree, I took painfully long to learn how to produce fifty pages of text for a Politics or Sociology essay; I felt I had said it all in three. Many scientists moving into Social Sciences suffer this experience, it seems.

I worked in Marketing. A great place for purple prose and creative exaggeration? No. I was an analyst; back to math, stats and dry, concise reports.

Then came computer programming and interactive websites… Believe me, a computer is a much stricter proof-reader than any human being. The slightest error – even a single, stray semi-colon – makes it fall into a deep sulk, or go insane and exterminate humanity. Okay, your household tablet might not be a Terminator, but even a humble tablet can have aspirations.

So, back to our literary agent. I promised you his response.

“The problem is,” he said, “authors don’t lack ideas, they have too many ideas. They lack lifespan!”

Check out Andy’s social media sites below:

Email andy@andymckell.com
Blog http://andymckell.com

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