I only know my own writer’s brain, so it could be completely normal when compared to other writers. When my writer’s brain kicks into overdrive, mundane, everyday activities become difficult. This past weekend, my daughter and I were doing chores together. I had the unfortunate task of tackling the kitchen which got completely out of hand last week. My mind started to wander as I washed when a dirty dish gave me an idea for an honest-to-goodness locked room murder mystery. Yes, a dirty dish. I was so excited I don’t remember getting from the sink to my computer. I do remember my daughter looking a little disgusted when she came down from vacuuming upstairs to discover her mother typing away at the computer instead of washing dishes. She wants to be a writer too so the moment I explained my story idea, all was forgiven. Instead of a lecture for slacking off, she asked about my villain’s motive. Exactly the question a writer wants to be asked by her daughter!
The one thing I do know about all writers’ brains is that we’re always writing. Always. Even when we haven’t picked up our pen or touched the keyboard in a week. It may not look like we’re writing, but we are. I describe it as I’m letting things cook. This occasionally results in my walking around unfocused and in a bit of a fog. For example, last week, I was eager to get started on my Vision Board to help me visualize the setting of my book. I had tons of pictures, videos, maps, tour guides, you name it. The first day I sat down and started wading through the digital album of pictures I wanted to choose from and wandered down memory lane instead. The next day, I made some notes, did a bit of research, but still didn’t start. On the third day, an idea came to me when I woke up as to how I was going to do my Vision Board. Even in the dark, early morning hours, I realized what had been going on all week. I was trying to figure out HOW I was going to make the Vision Board. As soon as I had the logistics figured out, I was off and running.
I’ve witnessed plenty of people ask this same question of their favorite authors: Where do you get your ideas? I’ve never asked any writer that question. Instead, I’ve asked how are they able to focus on just one idea. To me, it’s not how do you find ideas, but how can you NOT find ideas. They are all around us. In the smallest moments, memorable dreams, and a tour guide who says just the right phrase that causes an entire murder mystery to unfold in your head. Maybe that’s how the writer’s brain works, we don’t see what’s around us for what it is, but what it might be.
What if and I wonder. They are the keys, the rest is time, sweat and effort.