Ideas With Potential

Ideas With Potential

If you’re brand new to writing, you may question the ideas that pop into your head. And believe me, those ideas will come out of no where at the worst, most inappropriate times. The moment when there’s not a pen or paper in sight, BAM, that idea will be brilliant. You won’t remember it. Ever.

Those flashes of brilliance are a gift really. I had one such idea two days ago. It was a spark of an opening for a book, a new adventure for the characters I’m writing about now. I didn’t jot it down because I happened to be driving on the freeway with two teenagers in tow, listening to (rather blocking out) their debate over Xbox 360 or Xbox One.

It was a tiny twinkle of dialogue, a scene clearly in my head, and it’s still out there somewhere waiting for me to catch it again and fan the flames.

This One Time

Why can’t I ever learn? I remember something that my oldest son said when he was four years old that I did write down.

We had taken them to Palo Duro Canyon State Park for the day. We hiked, splashed in the stream, and cooked hotdogs. As we drove the 800 feet to the rim out of the canyon my son turned around and stared longingly out of the back window. “Can we ever come back?” he asked.

From his comment I had an idea for a story about our family outing on that day, which got published a year later in a local magazine. One of the mother’s at karate class remembered that article and asked me to do a writing workshop for the local homeschool group at our library. I had a great group of 15 kids plus mothers, all ages, eager to learn and hurry home to start their writing journals. From that event, I got two more invitations to speak including the regional homeschool coop conference the next year. That class was a fun group of about 45, and it included a generous fee.

One idea. One reflection, one short story, or a finished novel can keep going and going and going, opening doors in ways you never imagined.  Next time I’m stopping the car and taking notes.


EVERY Idea has Potential

EVERY Idea has Potential

west texas christmas stories

If you’re brand new to writing, you may have self-doubt. You might question sentence structure, your novel’s length, character motivation, the list goes on and on.

If you’re fairly new to writing, you might have dealt with these self doubt issues already, but might be shocked at how much your writing changes over a week, months, even years.

Whatever stage you’re at in this game, I want to emphasize the importance of writing every idea that pops into your head. As I blogged about last week, we must become fearless. The hardest part is to stop trying to make sense of the ideas that come to you at the most inopportune times.  I say this because I’ve let so many slip away.  However, one idea that I didn’t let slip away became a published story this week.

West Texas Christmas Stories

In 2006, I remember having an idea for a Christmas story. No clue as to why it came to me or where I was, but it was about a cowboy spending a lonely holiday and being content in his life.  Last year, I watched an old cowboy greet the morning sun on his horse just before he rode out into to the pasture to gather a herd. The look on his face was pure joy and contentment. The horse seemed excited too. For both of them a day’s work was just ahead, doing what they loved to do. That old cowboy reminded me of that holiday story. I found it on my computer, polished it up, and wondered where I could send it. This year, someone forwarded a story call out to me. My story fit the submission criteria, I submitted it, and had a “Yes” before days end. Six years after I had made a note, the spark became a published story in West Texas Christmas Stories with Abilene Christian University Press.

Write, Write, Write

The more you exercise that writing muscle, the more your eyes will look at the world as a writer. I remember taking our kids to the Fort Worth Zoo, just after I had begun to write fiction. My oldest, who was around seven then, said, “Would you stop saying everything’s a story.” My husband agreed, “ It is annoying.”

I hadn’t even realized I’d been speaking out loud, but the entire day held fascinating events, animals, sights and sounds wherever I turned. I couldn’t contain my excitement at seeing the world in a different light; through the eyes of a writer. Because everyone seemed annoyed, I didn’t take a note one. I was too embarrassed. I can’t help but wonder what might have been the fate of all of those ideas I never wrote down.

Now, I carry a journal or notebook everywhere and even snap a zillion pics with my iPhone. I’ll let you know the results in another six years or so. How crazy is this business?