Giving Up On Story Ideas

Don’t. Really don’t. Ever.

My process is to jot a story idea when it comes, think about it for a few days, weeks, or months and all the while jot down more notes until I’m ready to develop it into a pitch, outline, and a few chapters which I can then sell.

(Moleskine® notebooks are my favorite for jotting down these notes; custom Moleskines are pricey but infinitely cooler! I’m still figuring out if I can afford these.)

If I just get one idea and other ideas don’t coalesce about it, I just add that lone idea to my idea file and come back to it later if/when inspiration strikes.

If, however, the one idea spawns other ideas about setting, characters, plot—it all usually builds into an entire story and I know I have a project worth pursuing.

Only two or three times have I gotten one of these self-generating ideas that then hits a blocking issue that I cannot work/think around and come up with a solution—no matter how hard I try. It is extraordinarily frustrating. It’s usually just one or two key things preventing me from having a blockbuster pitch/story/script.

So yesterday I was driving and NOT thinking about this one poor collection of (orphaned) ideas—and BOOM. All of a sudden for no apparent reason, the solution to the blocking issue materialized.

(I pulled over and quickly jotted it down).

Honestly I had written this idea off as hopeless. I have no understanding why my brain spat out the answer like some 4 KHz microprocessor that had been silently chugging away on this problem for the last 5 years. I wonder if I had sweated it out way back when for a few more weeks if I would have come up with this solution or if this many-year hiatus was a necessary part of the process.

Mysterious ways does the mind work.

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