I’m about 120 pages into my first draft, and this week I felt the need to regroup. So, I read, revised and cut what I could so far, wrote scene ideas down on index cards, and generally got a grip on where I am and what comes next.
As I was reading and marking my pages, I got to thinking that I’m in the midst of my own creative process, and I don’t know where my ideas come from most of the time. The imagination is a beautiful thing.
However, that said, sometimes the old imagination needs a boost. That’s why I have an idea basket.
I bought a basket because I’m not organized enough to maintain an organizer. I jot tidbits that grab my interest onto the closest paper scraps (napkins, envelopes, and so on) and drop the scraps into the basket. Ta-da, instant filing system for the organizationally impaired.
Its presence is as reassuring as my favorite pillow, and it has come to my rescue once so far. Last summer I wrote a short story for a collection that will receive national attention when it’s eventually published. I thought my story was pretty damned good if I did say so myself. Only, it wasn’t.
Talk about feeling deflated and desperate. I had to start fresh with deadline looming. But what the hell was I supposed to write now? I’d blown my imaginative wad for the moment. Soooo, to the idea basket I turned.
In it, I re-discovered a gruesome little fact that I’d copied from a book a few years previously. It was perfect, and I knew it was perfect because my brain opened up again — synapses firing away. I felt them.
My basket is a keeper, but it’s for emergencies only. For the most part, regrouping as I did this week is enough to replenish my imagination-battery.