Evil brain sloths

“Where do you get your ideas from?” is a question that published authors get asked a lot. I only hope someday people will be asking me. Karen Miller thinks the question should be “where don’t you get ideas?”. Glenda Larke agrees, and thinks that if you have to ask the question, you don’t understand how writers’ minds work. Justine Larbalestier gets hers from evil brain monkeys. The common theme is that getting the ideas isn’t the problem – it’s the actual turning them into stories that’s hard.

I had an interesting encounter with my brain monkeys this week. They’ve always given me plenty of ideas, but only little bits and pieces. Once they’ve given me the first glimmering of a story they just roll over and go back to sleep, leaving me to figure out all the rest of it alone. I think I actually have brain sloths. Perhaps the monkeys were all gone by the time I got to the head of the queue.

Only this week I tried something different at Holly Lisle’s suggestion (I’m doing her How to Think Sideways writing course). Instead of leaping all over an idea the minute the poor thing poked its head up out of the subconscious and trying to force it into a story, I waited. Boy, that was hard. But it was worth it, because when that idea saw that the coast was clear it called all its mates out to join it and bang! the whole story fell into my head. Obviously I still have to write it, and no matter how complete the idea is, the writing is still where the hard work comes in. But it’s going to be really interesting to start writing a story without that sinking “I wonder what the hell comes next” feeling.

So now I’m thinking I may have maligned my brain sloths. Maybe they’re not a bunch of lazy no-good slackers after all. Maybe they’re just shy and I was scaring them away. Come out and play, little brain sloths! All is forgiven.

So. Where do you get your ideas from?

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3 Responses to Evil brain sloths

  1. Tabitha says:

    I totally agree with Karen Miller and Glenda Larke. 🙂 Ideas are everywhere for me. Sometimes they’re worth pursuing, sometimes not. Holly Lisle’s advice is excellent, because it lets the idea tell you whether or not it’s worth pursuing. Less work for you. 🙂

  2. Pandababy says:

    Holly has such good ideas – thank you for reporting the way this one worked for you – it gives me hope for my own brainstorms, whether monkeys or sloths.

    I’m reading Hawkspar today. I’ve been saving it – savoring the anticipation until I could not stand to wait any longer. It is soooo good.

  3. Marina says:

    Tabitha — less work is always good!

    Pandababy — I’ve only read one of Holly’s books, but I know she’s written squillions, so I’ve got lots to look forward to. I’m still thinking about the cleverness of the one I read several weeks later.