My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Feb 15

I need ideas

Category: Life

I’ve been pretty stuck in my writing. Nothing in my head seems worth the letters, and the words, and the sentences. It’s been this way for a solid while now, and I can’t seem to dig out of it. I love the craft, I love using it to create, I just don’t see anything worth creating.

So, if I don’t have any writing ideas just now, maybe you folks do. What would you like to see me write? Give me ideas, ask for anything. Give me suggestions, crazy topics, don’t be shy. I’ve asked this before, and it definitely helped then.

Just leave your ideas in my blog comments, please don’t leave Facebook comments or tweets.

11 comments

11 Comments so far

  1. swartzfeger February 15th, 2010 2:20 am

    Mike, we’ve discussed this a lot in the past, but I’ll post anyway. First, a sorta rant/preamble —

    IMO ‘ideas’ per se are the least important part of the equation, or not nearly as important as we allow them to be. I’ve had non-writers approach me with an idea for me to write and would share a byline/credit with them… as if a one sentence kernel of an idea was as important as the execution of it.

    Ok, ideas — rewriting/reimagining/modernizing fairy tales, foklore, or archetypal stuff can kick you into gear. Aesop, Grimm, Shakespeare, religious text immediately come to mind. I like to go for (by US standards) non-obvious stuff, ie, Russian folklore is full of great ideas/concepts. Egyptian myths. Any kind of mythology, actually.

    I think the key here tho is conditioning your mind to generate this stuff on its own. I like to think in terms of opposites, or tangents, non-sequiturs, six degrees of separation type of stuff. Take two completely disparate elements/things/concepts. How do those two connect, as unlikely as it may be? That gap, that friction between those two seemingly unrelated things can produce cool stuff.

    I just came up with one right now — synesthesia, zoo keeper. Ok, now I have someone with synesthesia that’s around animals. What’s next? How does his synesthesia affect his relationship with others? How does it affect his perception of animals? What’s next?

    Second — read. I’m not calling you out on this (ok, I am), but you know how much you do/don’t read. Shake things up. Remember how reading Jonathan Carroll and Vandermeer changed our perception of fiction, of craft? Get off the magic realism/spec fic merry-go-round.

    Read non-fiction… read a biography of John Adams. Read up on the Russian samizdat movement. Read about the WWII Enigma machine. Learn about mortuary science. Learn how Mongolians on the steppes ferment mare’s milk in an animal stomach/skin. Read about Greek Orthodox iconography. Learn about the aerodynamics of a frisbee. Research why males have nipples. Develop your own theory on how syncretism, conquest and intermarrying can affect an indigenous culture. Write an anti-genetic determinism screed/manifesto on how God’s gonna get all you humanist suckas (pretend you’re a luddite sequestered in a Montana cabin and you haven’t taken a shower for awhile).

    Practice externalizing your characters a bit. Reading outside your comfort zone can help with that.

    One other ‘idea’, and I think you’ll love this — song titles. You’re an effing music phreak like me. I “write to” titles all the time — my latest novella was “written to” the EP title “We Lost the Skyline”.

    Collect cool, unusual names. I keep a spreadsheet of names. Remember ‘The Divinity Student’? I collect unusual names. My mom’s cardiologist’s last name is Subramanian.

    Think of the worst fucking story/novel you ever read and write a response story that will absolutely crush it and put a stake through the heart of the idiot writer who vomited it up. Start a secret feud that only you know about.

    Be bold.

  2. Karen (the first one) February 15th, 2010 8:39 am

    Read The Midnight Disease by Alice Flaherty.

    It’s got a lot of science and she rambles a lot, but it changed the way I look at my writing. Most books about writing are about drive and inspiration, and you wave your magic wand and POOF, you have art!

    What I like about Flaherty is that though she’s a bit nutty (something she doesn’t shy away from), she really ties it to brain chemistry and science.

    There’s no such thing as a magic wand, but there are differing mental states and patterns that affect our writing, and understanding that helped me a lot. I came away with a more practical understanding of what my brain is doing when I”m writing freely, and what it’s doing when I’m blocked.

  3. Steph February 15th, 2010 8:42 am

    I’d like to read your thoughts about education. What would you like kids to learn? What would you like to see kids read?

    What is the stuff that you have learned that has actually mattered?

    In the TAL piece your then girlfriend talked about the enormous sex appeal of your emails with perfect spelling, syntax and grammer. I have heard other women proclaim the hotness of a love note that is well written.

    What have you learned that you still carry with you?

  4. michael February 15th, 2010 8:58 am

    Karen: I’ll definitely check out that book, but do you have anything specific you’d like to see written here?

  5. Karen (the first one) February 15th, 2010 12:25 pm

    It’s your blog – I say write what you’re interested in.

    I think you usually do.

    If I want to read about something, I want it from somebody who’s interested in the topic. Not someone who’s just doing it because I asked them to.

    Does that make sense?

    I think while you have to acknowledge your audience and that you have one, you also have to acknowledge that this is your space. Say what you need to say, maybe not everyone will like it, but be honest. Sometimes the best writing does hurt.

  6. Phil Ritchie February 15th, 2010 12:51 pm

    as everyone is obviously different, and the process is very personal – i’ve always found that passion (see: pain) begets creativity. i know it’s cliche, but i never seem to be able to put good ideas to paper when i’m totally happy. something’s got be be grinding on me, nagging to be dealt with.

    @swartzfeger – damn fine advice.

  7. Dani February 15th, 2010 6:38 pm

    What do you feel..deep beneath all the jokes and past all the tempororay things that bring momentary comfort, below skin adn bone,what is there waiting?

  8. josh February 16th, 2010 9:38 pm

    I still think you should try to get out of your own head, if only for a short while, and see what you find. Try a different approach. Challenge yourself with something other than that deafening empty.

    I’m going to try to pop on later, perhaps I can attempt something a bit more helpful. 🙂

    Hope to catch you.

  9. Amy February 17th, 2010 2:18 pm

    Privlege, how do you see it from your perspective?

  10. michael February 17th, 2010 2:20 pm

    Amy: How do you mean?

  11. Amy February 19th, 2010 5:04 pm

    Michael: What does privlege in the social context mean to you and how do you fit into it, and how do you not fit into it?

    I think it would be interesting to hear your perspective.

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