Sunday, March 30, 2014
The care and feeding of new ideas
Starting a new project is a strange thing, a thing like dreaming. You don't know where the idea is going to come from—it might be something you see, or hear, or read, or is said. It may even start as a joke, but it sticks around. And you have to feed it, because it's so hungry and it needs to grow. It wants attention, it wants inspiration—before it starves.
I don't get a lot of ideas. Well, that's not true. I do, but they're often force-directed at other things. Things that aren't stories. Sometimes I get ideas that people think are great, but to me they're only jokes on Twitter. I can't spend the amount of time it takes to write a draft with something that's a punchline.
I have ideas that I only manage to do something with years later—they're slow cooking. It's not that I can't churn out quick-serve commercial ideas, it's that I don't find them interesting.
I start with a playlist for audio atmosphere and a pinboard for images/places, because I can't write it if I don't know who is in it and what it feels like. That comes before the plot. Even when it's something that starts with the concept/action. It's still about the people in it and the world/circumstances that made them that way.
I've been playing with something over the past week, week and a half. Yesterday, I sat to try and put it on paper—capture it in a pitch or a synopsis or something before it escapes and then realized I couldn't. Not yet. I don't have a plot, because that's always what comes last and it's always what I struggle with the most.
But that's ok. It's still hungry, and I'm still feeding it, and I can't get frustrated that it doesn't want to talk to me with its mouth full.
Here is the song that it first devoured: