When I was younger and imagined my life as an writer extraordinaire, I figured I’d have creative breakthroughs every single day. Every. Single. Day. That every one of my thoughts would be my next best seller. That I’d be typing happily away on my computer – in my office, in a coffee shop, in the library – many GREAT THOUGHTS would hit me, I’d pick one, write the others down, and be set for that day.
I figured since inspiration is everywhere, the GREAT THOUGHTS would just come to me… easily. Simply. Without stress. Without pain. Without the hours and hours of time dedicated to it or agonizing over it.
I, of course, was wrong.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I have many great thoughts… that one time I figured out how to fix a footer in a pesky Word document that no one could quite figure out all by myself, that brilliant idea for a Full Moon Event involving glow sticks and a Frisbee, that time I paired cottage cheese and eggs and discovered the most amazing breakfast food of all time. Those are great thoughts…but just not the right ones.
Truth be told, GREAT (writing) THOUGHTS don’t come around very often.
Sure we have a pack of GOOD IDEAS sneaking around our ankles, and two or three INTERESTING CHARACTERS tugging at our hair… but GREAT THOUGHTS?
GREAT THOUGHTS tend to travel by themselves. They are rarely seen and, once had, hidden away, locked in a cage in our mind until we nurture them enough to let them see the light. (And by nurture, I mean feed them our souls in little chunks, let them drink our time away, and claw at our imagination for fun.)
GREAT THOUGHTS rattle their cages until they make us uncomfortable enough to share with others – tugging at our creative ropes, wanting to join the fray with the undeniable ARCHES, the handy PLOT TWISTS, and tumble with ALL THE FEELS. Enough to make us share them with OTHER UNKNOWN WRITERS who are just as desperate to find that one GREAT THOUGHT as we once were.
But sometimes it takes… well… time for GREAT THOUGHTS to come around. For a few writers, GREAT THOUGHTS appear regularly – and if you’re one of those writers, I’d love to know your secret – but for most of us, the breakthroughs just won’t come that often. It may not happen for years.
But the secret to writing, I’ve found, is that we can’t wait around until that GREAT THOUGHT shows up. Follow those GOOD IDEAS down the creative path for a bit. Spend some time with the INTERESTING CHARACTERS and ALL THE FEELS to discover what works. Be mindful of the ARCHES in other books and craft some PLOT TWISTS that would make even the smartest of reader fall off their seats in shock.
Just keep writing.
That one GREAT THOUGHT will come sniffing around soon enough.
Have a wonderful weekend!