Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Swirl of Ideas

Where do they come from - and how do writers take a germ of an idea and turn it into a full fledged novel?
I've blogged before about turning ideas into novels. No doubt, I'll repost that entry in the coming weeks - but I got thinking that there are as many approaches to ideas as their are novelists to process them.
Organic creativity has become a watch word for me. That's why I've sent out an invitation to some wonderful writers to share their process for turning ideas around in their minds and, in the end, crafting a novel from them.
In the meantime, what do I mean when I say "organic creativity"?

I've been to several writer's conferences over the past few years, and I've been on faculty for many of them. I've met wonderful people who desire to write for a living and are earnest about learning the craft of fiction writing. They attend conferences, have a library of "how to write" books, subscribe to Writer's Digest and read novels two and three at a time. But as time goes by - as years go by - these same wonderful people are still attending conferences, collecting "how to" books and reading novels. But they aren't writing. When I ask them what ideas they have for a book, the answer is often a long, sometime rambling answer about a boy and his dog, or love blooming on another planet. The conversation usually ends with the hopeful writing asking, "Is that a good idea for a novel?"

Usually, the answer is 'no'. And when I point out to them the reasons why, they not only agree, but are able to quote several author's and how to books who say the same thing. These are people who 'get it' in the intellectual sense, but have yet to put their knowledge into practice. Why? Because it's scary, that's why. A whole lot of faith goes into writing a novel.

Faith for a novel begins with a calling. The writer has to fully believe in the call to write. This isn't an industry that awards the uncertain. How can you know if you have faith in your calling to write? You know when you sit through an hour long seminar that explains what it takes to become a successful writer and how badly the odds are stacked against you, and you walk out of the room thinking, "I can't wait to get home and keep writing."

Faith extends to a full-fledged trust in your creative self. Many people get stuck here (I've been stuck here, and will probably get stuck again as time goes by). Let's revisit those writer's conferences I was talking about before. I've sat around many a table with hopeful writers, listening to their questions and concerns. They talk about margin widths, single and double spacing, they talk about hooks and premise (often, they aren't sure of the difference between a hook and a premise). They sit, stomachs churning, worried about formatting their proposal and how to talk to an editor without their copy of Writing the Breakout Novel beside them to refer to. You see, they've spent so much time learning the rules of the industry, they have paralyzed the free-flowing, fun-loving, koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs creative side of their brains. I would sit at these tables and listen to their concerns and all I really wanted to say to them is, "Let's go out and have some fun!" Yes, there are things you should know, stuff to learn (always stuff to learn - that never goes away), but I urge you, serious fiction writer, to get in touch with your inner creative hippie and un-tether your imaginations. Have faith in your creative self. Ideas come to those who dream.

In the weeks to come, we are going to hear from authors who have turned ideas into novels with some deeply cool results. I hope you will be inspired to find your own creative path by peeking over the shoulders of these successful writers. I'm excited about this series - and I can't wait to hear from you about how your ideas turn into wonderful books.

I bid you good writing.


Steve G said...

I think this is going to be a great series of posts as this is one of the things at the heart of writing. Great ideas are plentiful - it is what a person does with them that makes all the difference!

Steena Holmes said...

I just created a post earlier this week about inspiration and where it comes from. Great post, you made some great points. My first book came from a dream, my current WIP came from a thought I had during a church service where the pastor made a little comment.

can't wait to read where others received their inspiration!

Bonnie Grove said...

Steve: I'm really looking forward to this series as well. It's so enthralling to hear how others make magic.

Steena: A dream? Oh my! We have heard about some blockbuster books that started out as a dream the author had. Here's to yours!

Serendipity said...

good post lady!
koo-koo for cocoa're the best.

Anonymous said...

Helpful, thank-you. Also, I got your package in the mail this week. Thanks so much for taking the time to send it. My bookclub will be meeting soon and I'll hand them out.

Janet Ursel said...

Cool idea. And timely. I've been realizing lately I have to inject a little more fun into my writing. Probably by shutting up that annoying voice who keeps telling me how rotten the writing is. An inner editor I can live with. It's the inner heckler I need to kill.

Of course, it doesn't help that the latest writing book I read explains, in no uncertain terms, why the way I started my book is no good. And I understand why the author said that. But I know why I did it, and I know that I've had good feedback, including from professionals. But now it's another thing to struggle with when I write. *sigh*