Hit Me Baby One More Time...or how the ideas' process works

By Zee Monodee

Hello beautiful people!

I dunno about you peeps, but when ideas come to me, they arrive on the sting of that whip you see right here. Yes, my 'muse' is a sadistic dominatrix.

And what are we writers without ideas? The next book, the next series, the next plot point, the next scene, heck, the next line you're about to write, all spin from the ideas that simply 'happen' into your mind. And like I said, for me said ideas come on the whip crack of the dominatrix. How I wish the idea whisperer could be a sassy BFF who would tip these gossipy snippets in my ear - we'd share our little world and special interactions...


...instead I'm forced to jump out of my skin when the whip cracks and an idea settles in. Which makes for some awkward moments, I can tell you.

I'm bombarded by ideas all the time. I'm always looking for this image here (yeah, I know, I'm a nutcase. Welcome to the world of the writer!).

If you were to take a look inside my head (at your own risk and peril, my husband and kids would say. They've stopped trying to figure me out - which is another indication you've made it as a writer, when people leave you alone to exist in your make-believe worlds... But I digress). So this is what the inside of my head typically looks like:


Uh, yes, I have those 'diagram' things going too and I know how each connects to which story and why they play into the given plot. (I know, I'm weird. Only just...)

But we're writers, people! We thrive, heck, we exist, on ideas. You get a snippet for a story, and suddenly you're building upon that. For example, in the romantic suspense I am currently writing, titled Before The Morning (Corpus Brides: Book Two), my heroine is a secret agent. I have to think like her, and - you guessed it - that's where ideas come into play. She needs to sit down with the agency doctor and go over any potential psychological trauma in her past mission. Something she loathes - so how do you show that? She's a trained agent, so in thinking like her, you go something like, "she'd prefer a practice session of waterboarding over having to open her heart to a stranger". Which in turn, leads you to research waterboarding and how it's done, and this leads you to research torture methods in general... and then you end up watching CSI:NY and when the bad guys use cigarette burns as torture methods on their hostages, you already know that they are not Eastern-European criminals as these favour other torture methods. And researching the world of torture led me into investigation, and in turn, into forensic pathology, which sparked the idea for my upcoming release with Noble Romance Publishing, a sweet romance titled Calling Home (December 5, 2011) where the heroine is a cold and rational forensic pathologist whose world takes on a spin when she lands custody of her 11-yr-old goddaughter. This idea morphed into a series, about children dropping into unsuspecting folks' lives unannounced, and then... other idea, new plot kernel... Which leads you to...

... you get my point. Everything we do, every moment of our life, is a ledge opening onto the immensity of a new idea. You have no clue when an idea can hit you. Sometimes it pokes you in the side; sometimes it slams you over the head; sometimes it's a bitch-slap across your face.


And yes too - writers are crazy! That's what being bombarded by ideas 24/7 will do to you.
I have a notebook and a pen in my handbag - ideas go on there, especially if I'm standing in line at the bank (where you can't use your cell phone!).
I'm pretty sure to have my qwerty cell phone with me all the time - ideas go on there as notes or even a text I will send myself to not forget (great when in line at the checkout counter of the grocery store).
I've been known to stop the car on the motorway lay-by because an idea has come in, and my dominatrix-idea-shouter doesn't give a damn that I need to concentrate on the road where every other car is trying to channel the beep-beep Road Runner.
People have spoken to me at weddings/gatherings and I have no clue what they've said, because something caught my attention and sparked a new idea, and I need to process it ASAP in case it goes poof.
By now my husband knows how to interpret my in-a-void silences - I'm either talking all the time or I'm thinking an idea through, when he knows he better leave me alone for fear of talking to a zombie.
I use my insomnia-plagued nights to spin kernels of ideas into full plots.


Ideas happen everywhere, all the time. Yes, you might dry up a few times (often when you're over-written and over-thinking something - this image below familiar, anyone?)


But the writer knows that ideas really are everywhere, and s/he makes the most of that. Anything can trigger a plot kernel or a characterization tidbit.

Walking The Edge (Corpus Brides: Book One) came to me as a single idea - I was down with a cold and my medication threw me off-loop, causing me to live in a strange world of deja-vu while I was under its influence. Idea! = what if a woman's life was permanently like that deja-vu void? And she would have deja-vu if... idea! = she has amnesia. Now why does she have amnesia? Idea! = there are things about her past some people don't want to come to light. Why? Idea! = skeletons in the closet ... and so on, which led me to write a fast-paced, action-packed romantic suspense/espionage thriller when I never in my life ever thought I knew how to string suspense together!

Gotta face it - we writers are a strange breed, and just like ideas come to me, they come to each and every one of us. Once I was watching TV, and in the same night, I saw episodes of Gossip Girl, Chuck, and Without A Trace. Suddenly, the thought struck me that all the blonde female leads in these shows could pass for sisters. Need I tell you what happened? Nope. (Idea & the cracked whip and blah blah blah).



We all have our own inherent idea process, and for another writer, these ideas might come on the lips of the gentle BFF-idea whisperer. Or s/he could have a dominatrix cracking the whip like mine (and making more people basket cases out there!).

All I can say is - when you're a writer, ideas hit you all the time, and dang, they hit hard! You better brace yourself (and unless you wish to end up as a certified loon, don't sign up to become a writer!).

I'm curious about your ideas' process. Will you share with me what it's like for you when 'inspiration' strikes?

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Comments

  1. Heh. I read this entire post nodding like a bobble-head the whole time! I've often threatened to punch the next person who told me, "Oh, you're a writer. Well, that's not, like, REAL work, right?" Some people just don't get it.
    Sorry about the insomnia...fun, isn't it?

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  2. Lol JS - I'm next in line to hit that person, believe me! Let anyone attempt to write a book (that makes sense, on top of it all!) and see if that ain't 'real' work!

    Insomnia - fun when devising plot twists. No fun when you've run out of *gasp* ideas... :)

    Thanks for coming over & commenting! xoxo

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  3. I was so relating when I read this post! I often have those moments when I am sucked into an alternate universe, my own world, and I have no idea what the other person is telling me. It happens often with my husband, family, or whoever. Then the driving - going somewhere and not knowing how I got there...

    Ideas don't strike me all day long, but they strike me at the oddest hours. Usually at night, when I have to get up and scribble them down for fear of losing them. Or while in the car.

    When I tell people I write they often go mum, as though they don't know what to say. Or they go, "Oh, right..." and give me an odd look to go with that, as if saying, "My, she's one of THOSE people..." (who doesn't want to work hard like the rest of us) <- I just added the latter as their unvoiced opinion, because that's just what they're thinking.

    Loved your blog, sis!

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  4. lol..great blog Zee! I think all writers are alike. I get my ideas usually when I'm driving or just on the verge of sleep (like you I have issues with sleep...lol). I carry pen and paper in my purse, have a notebook beside my bed and post it notes all over the house with ideas...on occasion I get organized and put them in my WIP file, even if they aren't a WIP yet. But I do have to say, that I'm lucky in the fact that my muse doesn't slap me...my ideas come to me like a conversation...sometimes excited, but usually factual. How's that for lucky?

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  5. Thanks sis!! Glad you liked it. :) I thought most writers would find a commonality here, with ideas being such an integral part of what we do.

    Yes, there's the 'she's one of THOSE people' looks and comments, and then the 'she's deluding herself' because you're willing to go after what your heart desires and that's writing.

    Thanks for dropping by, girlie!! xoxo

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  6. Christine, you lucky git! How I'd wish to have ideas like snippets of conversation that'd make me want to lean over and glean some tidbits... Sigh - I have to contend with the bitch slap in the face!

    Just a little while ago, I was blowdrying my hair (and I think it 'helped' that I had my head upside down!) and wham, an idea slammed home, giving me a slant on a story I had written and abandoned a few years ago.

    Oh yes - that time just before sleep claims you? My favourite for letting my mind run free and put myself at the mercy of the idea-dominatrix :)

    I had to give up the post-it notes when my son developed a fascination for them and I'd find yellow notes stuck everywhere all over the house. Now I use virtual ones

    Thanks for the comment, girl! Much appreciated XOXO

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  7. Great post.
    Ideas hit me all the time--some are good and some I let run free for a bit, but then set them loose because I can tell they aren't all that great.
    When the good ideas hit, I have to write then down--on anything I have--or else they will fly out of my head, never to be thought of again. I've even had to write a small conversation between characters on my hand. LOL, I was soooo careful with my hand until I could transfer what I'd written onto a napkin--after that, I always have a piece of paper and a small pencil on me.

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  8. Hi Zee ~ When inspiration strikes, I can roll the idea around in my thoughts like a breath mint. I take notes and expand when I have time, thinking about it the whole time. It doesn't have to make sense, it's just an idea. Building on that seed of inspiration IS SO MUCH FUN!

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  9. Hey Brenda

    Lol, that is so funny about your hand! Kinda like those peeps who get a star's autograph on their skin and will do anything to not have it wipe off :)

    In the past, I could keep all ideas inside my head. Not anymore, unfortunately - if I don't write it down, I run the risk of forgetting.

    And I agree with you - some ideas you just have to set loose because they might be good but not full-story worthy.

    XOXO

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  10. Sheri,

    Love that comparison - like a breath mint!

    And I agree - building upon an idea is the best part of a writer's job, I think. :)

    Hugs!!

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  11. Great post, Zee. I find coming up with ideas is difficult when I try to come up with them alone.

    Cps rock! :)

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  12. Hey Zee I think we have the same muse! LOL! But I think we talked about that already. Mine is an evil goth that smacks me around quite often. Oh and if I ignore her she disapears for days. So I have to be ready when she is.

    I also have to write all my ideas down or they are lost in the twist and turns of my mind. My mind is a scary place. Would never want to be lost in that dark hole. LOL! But it comes up with some really dark and twisted stories.

    I have stopped sharing that I'm a writer. Its sad but most people just stare at you like they don't know what to say. I'm tired of the blank stare. Why do people think it is so easy to write a book? They should try it some time.

    Great Blog!

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  13. Hey Mart

    Yup, CPs rock! I love taking a snippet of idea to them and watching them help me morph this into a snowball of possibilities. One of the most fun and socially gratifying parts of being a writer!

    Thanks for the comment, girl! xoxo

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  14. Lol Tabitha! Mine doesn't disappear at all, just makes herself comfortable to be able to whip me up into shape when I least expect it. :)

    Hey, a writer has to have a dark and scary place as her/his mind - how else will we come up with those plots that will keep readers riveted, that will enable us to take our H/h through trial, tribulations, and walking on fire?

    True though - most people just stare and are dumbstruck. I choose who to tell I'm a writer - some I know will never get it and I prefer to spare myself the trouble and cringe-worthy moment of having to explain what I do and still have them humour me.

    Loved that you came over, girlie!! Big hugs

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  15. Oh, Zee, your mind looks like mine. I used to get ideas right before bed, but now by the time I hit the pillow, I'm exhausted. I usually get ideas when I'm supposed to be cleaning. And I too carry a pen and paper around with me everywhere I go.

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  16. Hey Jessica!

    Lol, when I'm really stumped for ideas, I take out the vacuum cleaner and suddenly the ideas are coming while I'm hoovering.

    Too bad I don't get idea droughts often, or else the house would be spick and span. :)

    Another place where ideas simply happen is in the shower - must be something about the cascading water and its influence.

    Exhausted? Lol, we would be, what with all the writing we do. That uses up a ton of energy. Just too bad it doesn't tone body muscles or else we wouldn't even need exercise!

    Thanks for coming over!! Big hugs

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  17. Oh..this gives me an idea! ROFLMAO!

    So true, though...oh how the ideas flow, regardless if we want them too. Notebooks, diagrams, endless half page documents on my computer with half ideas jotted up, and a white board full of nonsense.
    But where would we be without them?
    And when they do have a quiet moment, you know, when you actually NEED an idea, I find doing the boring, mindless jobs ideal -- ironing works a treat! hehe And meditation.

    xx
    Jo ----
    www.joannekenrick.com

    Dracula's Kiss -- heat level4
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