When I first started out on this writing quest one of my first questions was how does one get ideas? And what I seamed to find from seasoned writers, who deemed this a worthy question to answer, was that ideas where a dime a dozen. Literally, I swear that’s what they said. They couldn’t even come up with a better metaphor. They used a recycled one to describe how they came up with ideas. This kind of sort of maddened me, like a lot. Because when you are in that beginning stage, you are so earnest with your quest for knowledge, that this is a lot of sass, maybe too much sass, for such a fragile creature as a new hopeful writer to handle.
However, as I’m not a new hopeful writer any longer, I can say with absolute certainty that they where not wrong. Sometimes there is no easy way of saying that ideas are easy. However, the caveat being that you have to be aware of them, and how to filter them.
When you are in that boring mundane life, and you are looking across the fence to that creative playground, your brain isn’t yet trained in the pursuit of creative exercise. It’s a damned muscle, and like learning a sport, you need to use it to get better at it. So at first, ideas feel like sparse creatures, like unicorns you are trying to tame out in the wild. You sit and you wait, and you wait, and then oh look it’s gone again. Or you capture it and it’s a damned rhino and that is not what you had in mind. It is not shinny and pretty and magical. It is clunky, and grey, and stinks.
After awhile you get better at idea hunting. You learn how to stalk them. You learn where there hunting ground is, and you hunt them there. You capture one, but because it is so damned rare you treasure the thing. You build it up to be more than it is. You do this with the next one, and the one after that, thinking that all of these captured ideas are separate projects. That there need for space is apart from the last one you caught.
But after awhile you learn too that this is incorrect. The ideas morph into mosquitoes. They buzz, and they suck the life out of you. They become kind of pesky. The buzz about you when your working on something else, demanding your attention. Sometimes you gotta squash them. You’re like no, you are not the magical unicorn I’m hunting, you are a distraction, swat, swat, swat.
The last stage, or maybe it’s not, maybe it’s a cycle, but this is where I am, is when you have found their lair. When you can walk amongst the unicorns, and they take you as part of their tribe. You can revel at how unique they are, and how they work well together at the same time. You live in a forest, sleeping in tress, or behind waterfalls, and it’s really like Avatar at night, where everything is alight, and completely surreal and wonderful. You learn how the ideas are a larger part of a whole, an ecosystem supporting creativity.
So when someone says ideas are a dime a dozen, what they mean is you need to train your brain like any other muscle. You need to show up, and go through the slog. Ideas are a skill set, and you need to work out at it, like going to the gym. You need to learn how to hunt them. They are a dime a dozen, to the trained veteran, but to those new folk they are magical mystical unicorns, and the only way to find the hunting ground and the lair, is to do the time and the work.