It seems to me that writers fall into two groups – those who have one idea now and then and those who have so many ideas that it’s hard to keep track.
Personally I fall into the second group. When I think of ideas I think of herding cats. I make lists – this is like reducing the size of the field, but the cats are still loose.
But let’s deal with the ‘one idea, occasionally’ group. Perhaps your one idea is so good and strong that you can write on it for a long time, looking at different facts and facets. You might see it through different lenses and other points of view. You have a lot to offer us, in giving depth to our thinking about the issue.
Warning to the ‘one idea’ people – don’t let it become a rant. Different perspectives are what make a single focused idea work.
Or maybe you don’t feel you have enough ideas, or your ideas aren’t strong enough. There are web sites that will give you word whips, or story themes or starters. There are forums where ideas are batted about. Get your Google going and find ideas. (There is no charge for searches. Thank you! Google.)
Yes, you’ll reject a lot of the ideas – not good enough, too off the wall, not right for me. Fair enough. Just give your analytical brain a rest occasionally so one or two ideas can creep through to the creative side.
For the rest of us, who live in a permanent shower of ideas, grab them and mind map them. Some will turn out to be weaker than you thought; there isn’t enough meat to them. You can reject those, or put them to one side for a rainy day.
Some will prove to be totally unsuitable for some reason (unmarketable, wrong genre, dumber than you thought).
Once you get mind mapping your better ideas you get a sense of the shape and feel of them. Some turn out to be quite different than you thought. You have more sub-ideas in one area and fewer in another. Your whole idea seems tilted to one side. This could be a good thing, revealing and interesting. Or not.
It could be a reason to throw out the whole idea. It could be an area where you can see growth for yourself. It might be an area you’d need to research, or even change your thinking about. It could be a place you are familiar with and can write about with ease and fluency.
Dig a little deeper into the idea – does it have any more depth to offer you? Any more directions to take you?
Yes, having lots of ideas is like herding cats. But when you have selected the right cat and it is curled up, purring in your ear, there is no better feeling for a writer..