i've mentioned before that shiny new ideas often come to me when i'm in the thick of another project. it's my brain's escape mechanism, i think, when i'm tired of revising or when i hit a dry patch in a first draft.
the ideas often lose their luster once i actually have time to write them. i've learned to ignore those light bulbs that pop on and only focus on them when they refuse to go out. i write the ideas that stick with me.
so it occurred to me recently that this doesn't just happen when i'm working on a project. new ideas happen ALL THE TIME... for all of us writers, i'm sure. for every idea that takes root in our mind and eventually becomes a story, there must be dozens - hundreds, even - that we toss aside.
this morning, for example.
the google header today is celebrating Houdini.
hey! what if there was a modern Houdini? a teenage girl? But instead of getting out of tricky boxes and straight jackets, she was an expert at getting out of trouble? Until one day she finds herself in a pickle she can't escape?
then i thought - "what's the pickle? eh, i don't know. i should be revising my WIP."
there was a spark of an idea, but it didn't take hold. it's now like a little scrap of paper in the trash bin of my brain. it could get plucked out, but it will probably just join the pile of hundreds of other scraps - all of those ideas i don't even bother to write down - one big pile of inspiration confetti.
on vacation, standing at the edge of the ocean while the post-tsunami waves pulled away from the beach a little too far and a little too fast, several bits of water-logged prose popped into my head. but i didn't write any of them down or transcribe them into my voice recorder, because none of them blossomed into plot or characters. add those scraps of prose to the pile.
when people talk about writing discipline, we often mean forcing ourselves to sit down and write. but i think it also takes discipline to filter through the ideas and inspiration to determine which ones HAVE TO BE WRITTEN NOW, which ones will have to wait and which ones are just confetti.
what about you? do you jot down every single idea or snatch of dialog that pops into your head? how do you filter the noise of ideas to focus on just one or just a few stories?