INSIDE THE ART, CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF WRITING for Film, TV, Books, Stage, Print or Digital Media (with Particular Attention to Comedy)
“The Latin verb cogito for ‘to think’ etymologically means ‘to shake together.’”
Writers are often at their least creative when it comes to beating themselves up for not working, or not working hard enough, or not producing enough words – and those can be problems. But it’s an equally widespread problem that writers write too many words too soon.
I find the actual drafting of a project (or scene) usually happens pretty quickly if I’m clear about what I’m writing and why. Sometimes the problem is that the idea/concept isn’t strong and clear enough before you start writing. Sometimes, you haven’t let the idea simmer long enough. Notions happen in a flash. Good ideas can take longer.
I waited over a year after the initial idea before I started writing my current script until my take, my perspective, my POV became clear – before I had the second idea that combined with my first idea made up the concept.
The idea that ideas don’t always happen in a sudden ‘aha!’ flash has been around for some time. Arthur Koestler wrote about it – and diagrammed it – in his now-classic, and inexplicably over-priced book “The Act of Creation”. An idea simmers along then, if you’re lucky and/or receptive, it combusts with a second idea to form a new creative thought.
Now Steven Johnson elaborates on the idea – and shakes it together with some other ideas – in his book “Where Good Ideas Come From”, and he has a fun, free animation to illustrate it.
While we’re on the topic, you may also want to check out “Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas Are Born” by Denise Shekerjian, which synthesizes insights on creativity from conversations with 40 winners of the MacArthur “genius” grant – artists, writers, scientists, inventors, cultural critics – or about a dozen other books now out on the subject.
Or you could just get back to work and slap your own ideas together.