A blog about whatever randomosity my fevered mind conceives.

The Word Factory…

Do you ever wonder where another writer’s ideas come from? I do; often actually.

Sometimes I picture a miniature version of myself toiling away inside my brain in what I think of as ‘The Word Factory’. Honestly, I don’t know if I ever had this mental image before reading Stephen King’s ‘Dreamcatcher’ (if you’ve read it – or seen the movie – you might remember the character Jonesy and his memory warehouse) but I have a completely functioning mental image of this tiny Robin struggling to find the right words to put together on the right lines. Is that crazy? Maybe, but I’m oddly okay with this.

Let me take a quick minute here to tell you how my ideas are usually born; it almost always starts with a single line. Some random little tidbit (such as “Hush now, my New Orleans’ Baby in the poem ‘New Orleans’ Baby’ or “It’s been a third of a lifetime…” in the short story ‘Jay’). Most of the time I don’t know what the line wants to be; is it a poem? It is a song? Is it a story, or just a strange rambling of ideas that needs to be spewed out on the page (such as this)? ‘Jay’ for example, seemed to me like a poem; it only became a short story after I realized that’s what it really wanted to become.

Here’s how that works. I’ll be doing something completely unrelated; working on my novel perhaps, or reading the news for the day; and then BAM!!! an idea (a ‘line’) explodes through my brain with all the ferocity of a speeding locomotive. I’ve tried to ignore these ‘lines’ before, but they never go away until they’ve been – at the very least – scribbled down somewhere. Frequently, when I’ve managed to clear up some time to pay the ‘line’ proper attention, I’ll switch from computer to notebook; I find that scribbling in a notebook often releases more of the creative flow; and attempt to single handily murder the rain forests in an attempt to give the ‘line’ a proper birthing (don’t worry, my eldest has made recycling mandatory around here). Sometimes the line ends up dying in utero; the sad fate some ideas must face so that others can thrive; but often, once I’ve figured out what the idea wants to become, I will toil on it obsessively until it reaches maturity.

By now you’re probably wondering if there’s a point to this ramble… I pause now to try to remember if there was one… oh right! Yes, there’s two points actually. The first is that I’m currently working on something I hope to share with you fine folks likely tomorrow (rough draft is all finished up, but I like to give stories at least a good half a day to ferment before I edit usually). It’s one of the rarities that occasionally occur with a ‘line’… it refused to be shoved into either a story or a poem, but instead demanded to be both. I’ve still not decided just how I’ll be posting that for your reading enjoyment (or horror as the case may be) but I’ll work out those details later – this is just a heads up to let you know that it’s coming.

The second point I had was that I would LOVE to know more about how other people’s ideas are born; maybe just so that I know I’m not the only one with a crazy little version of themselves rushing around frantically in their brains trying to stretch a single line into a full-fledged child; so, PLEASE leave a comment if you know something about your personal process. Of course, I’ll forgive you if don’t (sad face), since most of the writers I’ve known in life had claimed to have no idea where their ideas come from, and that they have no tried and true process for developing them. Many writers I’ve known have said simply, “It just sort of happens.” Still, I’d love to hear from you.

On that note, I’m off to catch up on blogs (I’m more than a little behind today) before I try to tickle a whole new ‘line’ into confessing its deep, dark secrets.


28 responses

  1. Ideas are never born from zero or nothingness, but it remains true that they can spark from even the tiniest of things; case in point, a verse like it happened to you. In my case, ideas appear as inspiration from the titles of songs (to the point I’ve written an entire draft based on it) or what-ifs that show up in my mind after enjoying a particularly thrilling, thought provoking movie or book.

    Another interesting way to receive inspiration is to ask yourself questions. In my case, the book I published is an answer to question “What would it be like to see a complete loser’s ultimate, most beautiful victory?”.

    I hope this helped. Nice post!

    March 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    • Wow, now that’s what I call a comment! Thank you!
      When I’m trying to ‘drum up’ ideas, I do some of the same things; I’ll ask the ‘what ifs’ or think of titles to movies/books/songs that strike a certain cord within me and wrap an idea around just those words. My favourites though, will always be the spontaneously explosive ideas that SEEM to come out of nowhere; often when I’m reading through the first draft I see more of a connection to where I might have been impregnated with the notion, but rarely does this happen before the writing begins. Though they don’t make concentration entirely easy some days, they – more often than not – give birth to far better ideas than all the brainstorming in the world.
      Thank you again for responding and giving me a little food for thought.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      • I know what you mean when it comes to spontaneous ideas. That’s why revising your work is so important; going through it a second time can help you give it a clearer voice or a different message altogether.

        And no problem. It was a pleasure.

        March 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      • Ah, I am often bad for over-editing. With this blog I’m attempting to free up my inner-writer a little bit, but I’m still terrible for (often) editing things until I’ve decided they’re just not worthy for print. I am working on this though… one baby step at a time. Eventually, I’m hoping to find some balance.

        March 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      • Try working with an editor, proofreader or just about anyone who takes writing as seriously as you. There’s only so much you can do before your vision runs out and your stories start suffering for it. Check this post and see what I mean:


        March 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      • Thank you! To be honest, though I rarely lack self-confidence, I seem to be lacking it dearly when it comes to my writing. Again, this is something I’m trying to work through with this blog. It’s always nice to come across someone already finding success in the business that has something wise to counsel… I truly do appreciate it. I have set some pretty steep goals for myself for the coming year – perhaps an editor is exactly what I need in order to meet them.

        March 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      • Good luck!

        March 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      • Thank you. 🙂

        March 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm

  2. I absolutely agree with you about the one line that can create a story! Just this week, I thought up the sentence “You must have done something pretty awful in a past life to be reincarnated as a bitch,” and it hatched an entire short story! It’s nice to learn about how other people come up with their ideas =)

    March 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    • Thank you for replying! And yes, it is nice to learn about the process others go through. I’m always curious about that sort of thing because I wonder if it’s so sporadic for everyone else as it sometimes is for me. I’m glad to know that you also get the one-line-shotgun-blast too!

      March 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm

  3. Aaah. I’ve done that plenty of times. When that one single line comes into your head and you just CAN’T get it out. I normally just scribble it down somewhere to get it out of my system and that’s the end of it. Years later, I stumbled across and maybe I’ll write something using it, maybe I won’t. Lol. But that single scribble, most of often than not, ends up being useless.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:46 am

    • You’re lucky you get to ignore your ‘lines’… they torment me until I pay them attention lol. Sometimes though, they build up and I end up with pages full of single lines that don’t fit together… thats always a little annoying.

      March 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      • Haha. Writing them out gets them off my head fooorever! 😀

        It might be a little annoying but I’m sure you end up with some amazing stuff.

        March 11, 2012 at 1:52 am

  4. love it – you describe the writer’s experience perfectly

    March 10, 2012 at 4:47 am

    • Do you have a little Kyle running around in your brain? Damn it, why am I picturing your little Kyle naked? 😛

      March 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      • because he is naked

        March 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      • Ah, well then, it makes sense doesnt it?

        March 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      • stop it or you will give little kyle a little stiffie

        March 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      • HAHA hey, I didn’t do anything!
        I’ll be by to read your blog soon… just about to post part 1 of mine… checking a final time to make sure it makes at least a little sense.

        March 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      • shit! your posts make sense? why didn’t you say? i thought you just bashed away at the keyboard blindfolded 😉

        March 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      • Well… I pretend to try and make sure they make sense… I’m never really sure if they do:P
        Please!!! Let me know (when you read it) if it’s horrid.

        March 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      • i kinda hope it is – i like horrid – just opening it now

        March 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      • lol ty X! I’m just gonna grab some quick dinnner.. then back to catch up on my reading. Hey… don’t you ever sleep?

        March 10, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      • sleep is for humans
        hahaha off to bed now as it happens x

        March 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      • hehe okay.. sleep tight doll. X

        March 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm

  5. Kana Tyler

    An award for you! Stop by to collect… http://kanatyler.com/2012/03/09/tmi-if-ever-an-award-were-meant-for-me/
    🙂 Kana

    March 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

    • *Shocked face* T’is a most wondrous honour! I thank you.

      March 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm

  6. Pingback: Using My Words « I was just thinking…….

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