A friend called and at the end of the call I asked her what I should blog about. She said something like “write about where ideas come from.”
I’ve blogged about where writers get their ideas and started to say “no.” But one of my recent practices has become, more or less, the admonition to my self: Don’t deflect ideas! Instead of saying no, I waited a tiny moment.
Sure enough, a new thought came in and I remembered that yesterday I started a rant about my bank and customer service. As I blew off steam I realized I didn’t want to put that kind of negativity out in the world.
Which led almost immediately to the notion of blogging about how I hone ideas. After I’d finished talking with my friend I began this blog and recognized that the first step in honing is deciding if the idea is worth a darn in the first place.
Talk about a subjective process!
My unfinished rant on banks and customer service isn’t a bad idea. There are at at least two possible posts or articles there, maybe more. But I didn’t want to write about that yesterday. My feeling that what I was writing was too negative reflects part of my personal belief systems. I mean there are people who make multi-million dollar paychecks on negativity - I don’t want to be one of them.
However, I often run into good customer service and my experience with credit unions has been quite positive, so I’ve left the draft where it is (WordPress allows keeping draft blogs) because I might want to write about the good things with either.
In other words yesterday’s draft has moved from discard to wait. I have a hunch it will eventually get thrown out. At least for this blog. Although customer service certainly has application to freelance writers. Hmmmm. In other words, part of yesterday’s work moves to wait.
Banks? Not so much.
Honing an idea, at least for me, isn’t exactly editing or rewriting. It’s getting clear on the purpose of the piece I’m working on.
The article on getting clear suggests that every writing project needs a purpose statement, and while I do believe that I don’t always write out those 10 words before something short like this post. I used to and when I get stuck I will work with the purpose. But I’ve got enough experience – some 649 posts here plus several years worth at the old GoldenPencil and who knows how many when I was the Guide to Freelance Writing over at About.com. I’ve lost track of how many years I did that.;)
Once I’ve got my purpose, I know I can usually write to it which means the idea is good enough and clear enough to work with.
That’s roughly my process. What’s yours?
Image from http://www.sxc.hu