Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Elusive Butterflies


When someone reads one of my stories and says, "I don't know where you come up with this stuff," I wonder: Is that a compliment? Of course, I get asked all the time where I get my ideas. I think all writers do. I think story ideas are flitting all around all the time like elusive butterflies just waiting for me to look up and notice them. They can be pretty hard to catch, but sometimes when I'm not expecting it, one of them will come and land on my shoulder. I have to take notice quickly, though, because the ideas flit away with astonishing speed.

I had a great idea for a story the other day. I got all tingly about it. Then, I broke the cardinal rule of catching story ideas. I didn't write it down. That afternoon, when I tried to remember my great story idea, poof--gone. I couldn't remember the idea. I couldn't remember what sparked it. I couldn't remember anything about it. It was thoroughly and completely gone. I still can't remember anything about it. Ideas are like that. If you want them to hang around, you have to write them down. Write them down! Write. Them. Down. I have learned my lesson. Again.

Of course some ideas, probably the best kind, are a little more persistent. They are more like mosquitoes than butterflies. They leave an itch behind that you just can't ignore. You have to write them down too, though. If you don't, the itch will fade and you'll forget even the most exciting ideas.

How do ideas come to you?

16 comments:

Nisa said...

So true. I keep a pen and notepad by my desk because I usually get most of my lyric ideas in the middle of the night. It took several great ideas lost before I finally got smart though. Great post!

Elana Johnson said...

You are so wise!

This is why I keep a notebook in my purse.

And for me, ideas come when I'm out enjoying life. So if I ever feel like I've got nothing, I get off the computer and enjoy life. Then a character will come to me. Or a situation. Or something.

Great post! Sorry you lost your idea. :(

David J. West said...

Ideas come from every possible place and unexpected constantly-so NOTEBOOKS are everywhere around me and usually with me when I go somewhere too.
A hint of interesting dialogue, a twist on something I see or anything.
And then when I have them I blend and blend.

Eric said...

Great post. I bought a bunch of little notebooks for just that purpose. Do you think I have learned to keep them with me yet? Heck no.

Sigh.

L.T. Elliot said...

Ideas come from anywhere, for me. A song lyric, a turn of phrase, a person, an overheard (eavesdropped) conversation, a dream, or simply random thoughts. I keep a notebook handy for just this same reason. I learned the hard way about losing ideas too.

Great post, Angie. Keep 'em coming!

Lisa Amowitz said...

I have scribble pads full of ideas, but the best ones are the ones that stick and start bugging me (like your mosquito). I have one like that impatiently waiting for me to finish my forever WIP already.

I also find the best ideas come when I am driving long distances. And most of my ideas come in summer. When the earth comes alive, so does my mind, I guess. I've got a long winter ahead of me!

Lisa Amowitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry and CIndy said...

Great Post Angie. I too believe we should all have a notebook handy, not that I am a writer but sometimes I have a profound thought or inspiration...I will forget if I don't write it down right then!!! You are truely inspiring!!! I just started a book for book club and it is titled "Shattered Silence" Author Melissa G. Moore and it is The Untold Story of a Serial Killer's Daughter. The publisher is Sweetwater Books w.w.w. cedarfort.com. Have you tried that publisher. This book is sold at Deseret Book. She also quotes a song by Mindy Glenhill who is an LDS Singer. Love Ya MOM

Amber Lynae said...

You described it perfectly Angie.

My ideas mostly come from inward reflection with a touch of "what ifs" thrown in for good measure.

ali said...

Dang it! I hate it when that happens! My new best friend? My record app on my iPhone. I'll whip it out in the middle of dinner, while talking with friends, any old time, to leave myself a note. Do whatever it takes sistah!

Aubrie said...

This is a great post! My ideas come to me in the car as I drive(wirst place for writing them down)So I try to remember them until I get to a traffic light and then jot them down!

Carolyn V. said...

My ideas come at the weirdest places! On trax, at the grocery store. Weird. I guess that's why my professor told us to carry around a small notepad with us wherever we go. I still need to buy that notepad. *head shaking at self*

Linz said...

Butterflies. Perfect analogy for ideas! And I agree - write them down!!!!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Oh, those mosquitoes! They do bite!

Alaina Evans said...

Noteworthy!

Angie said...

Thank you all for you your comments. Mom, I just have to say that I love you so much and I am so thankful for all your support!

I like your idea-capturing solutions, especially recording them. I will have to try that!