Don’t ask, don’t get.

Something that never ceases to amaze me is the power and capability of the mind. Whilst I’m quietly confident that I seriously under utilise my mind’s capacity, there is comfort in knowing that I can call upon it to help me out and that it will usually deliver. This is particularly true in relation to creativity.

A little while ago I was walking my dog late one night after a long day. I was really tired and although it was frosty outside, it seemed like every fascinating scent was out and my dog insisted on careful inspection of all that was on offer. We finally turned the corner for home and an idea popped into my head for a short story. It was incomplete but with enough shape and structure to get started. We made it home and I shrugged off my weariness to capture the words and images that were tumbling through my mind.

Recently I reviewed the rough draft, tweaking it and making some changes. The two main characters were really clear to me, but I hadn’t named them in my haste to get the story down. What to call them? I left my brain to work on that problem overnight and woke up  with a handful of possibilities. The characters now have names and that tricky ending that I was worried about has been replaced with something better.

There is another short story idea that I have simmering away in the back of my mind. The images are clear and I’ve jotted down some notes for when the time is right to start it, but again I was thinking about the name of the main character. There were a couple of secondary characters who were easy to identify, but I wanted the main character to have a surname that could be mispronounced by a child and end up as one of those abbreviations that becomes a nickname which ends up as the main form of address for someone. A name with a couple of levels of meaning or significance in the story. I was driving recently when there was a discussion on the local radio and one word literally rang a bell for me. It was the perfect fit.

Putting it out there may not always be entirely reliable or a quick solution, but if you have a bit of time and space to let your mind sort through the possibilities, or listen out for solutions, the results can be pleasantly surprising. Don’t ask, don’t get.

How do you find solutions for your creative challenges?

[Photo: part of a phrenology head spotted at a local market]

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13 thoughts on “Don’t ask, don’t get.

  1. I don’t do creative writing (yet). I have a good analytical mind but struggle to be genuinely creative. However, the same concept applies. I sketch something out, just get it all out, and sometimes its nearly spot on just as it is, and sometimes its terrible. So I leave it, come back to it later, and just see what pops up as I work on it. There are some things that I may never shape to my satisfaction, but there’s plenty that do end up so much better than I would have expected. Yet if you asked me to systematically draw up something, a plan, before I proceed, there’s a good chance I’d have nothing. It all tends to bubble over in the dong of it.

    • Thanks for sharing, Terry. It’s good to know that the process is similar for different applications and now you’ve outlined it so well, I can see I use a similar approach in other areas of my life. Sometimes you need to give yourself a bit of space to come up with the best outcome. Thanks again.

  2. I do the same thing…just go on about my daily life, with the idea brewing in the back of my head. And then I get my answer. I guess our subconscious mind is working on it?

  3. I write down questions to myself.
    I could go for days thinking ‘what will happen next… I’m so stuck’, but when I actually sit down with a pen and notepaper to brainstorm with some prompt questions, things often fall into place.

    • What a great idea – I wish I’d thought of it myself 😏. Writing reinforces my thoughts and I’m sure it would help if I write down questions rather than just thinking them. Thanks for sharing – you’ve inspired me and I’m going to give it a go!

  4. I keep a journal, and constantly scribble ideas down on anything from mini notebooks to napkins. When I come back to them, inevitably a clearer version emerges. Sometimes it takes several visits before i know what to do with it.

    • Thanks Bill – it’s good to know how other people keep track of thoughts and ideas. And sometimes they do need a bit of time to reach their full potential. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Pingback: In Draft Mode | jml297

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