Idea Snobbery

49a51aa36a983ce3e8161f7c59e63bf7Once, many tweets ago, I said that I had no imagination. I based this scientific analysis upon a failed attempt at a writing prompt which only required me to write a sentence incorporating three words. Two. Navy. Storm. [here’s the link, if you’d like to join in]

Well over an hour *cringe* possibly two hours of word crunching (and a little tweak just now) yielded this:

The barometer in the hallway had predicted the storm two weeks before you propped the envelope beneath it with my name written in navy blood.

In my head, I began in a storm at sea on a ship with navy sails which sounded contrived and furthermore, I knew nothing about sailing. So then I spent the next part of forever trying to think about it differently. This lead me to ask – what could there be two of? And what kind of storms exist? These thoughts allowed me to think of different options. And I introduced a storm into someone’s relationship. It was like ‘Voila!’ but hours later, and I’m still not sure it’s finished.

But there you have my imagination at work, heaps of ideas, and even thought processes. So what’s my problem?

I’m an idea snob. I don’t consider these ideas good enough, I dismiss them before they are barely thoughts and I don’t allow them to grow. I also resent the time it takes for me to grow an idea yet I’m all too aware I need practice.

This brings me to today, and my decision to try the flash fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig. This meant rolling a ten sided die three times which, from his website, would give me the subgenre, the setting and an element to include within my 1500 word short story. I rolled:

Subgenre: Zombie Apocalypse
Setting: Vampire’s Subterranean Lair
Element: Artificial intelligence

I inwardly groaned. Zombie apocalypse? Really? Vampire’s subterranean lair? At least that was a location and not a subject matter. Artificial intelligence? Maybe I could handle that. Oh God. I knew I was already mentally switching off. I need to be challenged as a writer yet I’m not stepping up to the plate. I found myself rolling again:

Subgenre: Erotic fairy tale

No, no, no, no, no, noooo. What!? Apparently it could get worse.

I found myself reading through all the options scratching them off, mildly liking some, yet deeming them all invalid. Do I write about something that I abhor but something that challenges me? I’d be lucky to write 1500 words in a month, do I put that time into writing a flash fiction that will never see the light of day but will undoubtedly teach me something? Or do I pretend I rolled:

Subgenre: Sword and Sorcery
Setting: A King’s Throne room
Element: A mysterious stranger/magical pocket watch

And roll with that?

 

FYI: For those familiar with my blog, no this wasn’t a scheduled blogging night, but I wrote this in about an hour. Booyah!

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14 thoughts on “Idea Snobbery

  1. Great post, m’dear. And I’m thrilled to learn your post only took you an hour to write! Mine normally take twice that long. 🙂

    I really liked your writing prompt sentence, especially the bit about the navy blood. I didn’t think I liked that image at first, and thought ‘would ink not have worked better?’ But then I let it sink in and realised ‘Nope. Navy blood is brilliant.’ You made me realise I was framing the sentence in the context of a human relationship, based on Earth. Which is silly, really, when you think about it.

    I know what you mean about being an ‘idea snob’, but I really think you need to give your ideas space enough to grow, at least until you can see them clearly. Some ideas will work, and some won’t, but some of the flashes of inspiration you get which may not develop into a fully-fledged story on their own might become an interesting detail in another piece of writing. So, it’s always worth listening to the ideas you’re getting. Plus – and this is scary – if you shut down your ideas, and you tell your brain ‘Be off with you!’ when it sends you a little idea seedling, eventually it may stop sending you ideas at all. That’s the most important bit, I think, about listening to your ideas – even if they’re not great at first, they’re a sign that better ideas are on the way.

    I’m looking forward to reading your Zombie Apocalypse set in a Vampire’s basement involving Artificial Intelligence and Fairytale Erotica. That is a lot of stuff to get into one story! I think you should give it a try, though. If nothing else, it’ll be fun. It screams ‘comedy’ to me, anyway. Best of luck! 🙂

    • If nothing else, I’m really pleased that my writing prompt sentence made you think and ask questions!
      I didn’t like ‘ink’ because describing ink as navy appeared pointless. I considered ‘navy scrawl’ but I quite liked the vehemence of ‘blood’ and justified it by knowing the next bit. It goes on:

      It looked like blood. The ink had run stretching the letters into their own macabre script. At first glance it appeared intentional, but as I collected the letter from the hall table a darker truth pierced me – she had wept.

      You are totally right – dismissing my imagination will prevent my brain from showing me anything. And until I wrote that writing prompt, I didn’t realise how much I blocked my own thinking. This is good to know. Maybe I will attempt that Zombie Apocolypse…

      • You *need* to carry on that story, you know – I’m intrigued and can’t live if you don’t tell me how it all ends! I love the bit that goes: ‘a darker truth pierced me – she had wept.’ That’s amazing.

        Let’s make a deal – I’ll write a story based on my Chuck Wendig prompts if you finish yours about the navy ink. Will we shake on it? 🙂

      • Tentatively extends hand. *chanting to self* ‘Failure is trying, failure is learning, do not be afraid, you can do it, you can do it… SQUIRREL!’ *points* *runs in opposite direction*

  2. Often, when I’m asked to write about something using a specific idea / trigger, my imagination dries up immediately, or like you, I think all the things I do come up with aren’t any good.
    I came to the decision recently though that the writing is more important than the subject for creative pieces haha.
    Awesome post by the way!

    • It’s so true – when it comes to creative writing it’s a little like write first ask questions later! Thanks for liking my post and taking the time to comment 🙂

  3. Wow. I write my posts in minutes :/ I guess that’s why they always have mistakes and are never as polished and sophisticated as yours. I’m looking forward to your zombie apocalypse story!!! I have a weakness for zombie apocalypses 🙂 And now that I think of it, any idea you may pick will work out for you in the end. Because you’re a writer! And you can write. About anything 🙂

    • Minutes? Really? *sighs* *turns green* I can’t write anything quickly (yet – hopefully practice will help!) Thank you for the kind words. I plan to give ‘anything’ a go! Just don’t expect it soon 😉

  4. All the time you were thinking, were you writing? Was it a thinking prompt? No – it was a writing prompt! So write. Stop thinking – write! Write for ten minutes, without thinking, judging, or “coming up with ideas”. Write. When you read what you wrote, your one good sentence will be before you. Yes, it will be.

    • It’s obvious now that you mention it. Thinking vs writing. Write first, think later. My new motto. Thanks for the pep talk, and the comment which I guess is a tautology. 🙂

  5. Pingback: I’m Wondering How Long This Title Can Be Before I’m Cut Off Or Arrested Or Something. Still Going. Gah! I’m Beginning To Think This Can Be As Long As I Want… | Will Wally Wonder

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