Lightbulb moments are cheap. Anyone can have an idea at anytime. It doesn’t take any special kind of skill or being a clever person to come up with ideas.

And ideas can happen without forethought or planning. Which means that sometimes an idea can pop up at the most inconvenient times. In the middle of a busy workday, at a concert or the cinema or worst of all just as you are dropping off to sleep.

This happened to me just the other night. As I was drifting slowly into gentle folds of sleep an idea occurred to me about my latest novel. I’ve been struggling with it for a few weeks and my idea seemed to, if not solve my problems, at least take the story in a refreshing new direction. Unfortunately I felt too tired to sit up and jot down a note. I told myself, I’ll remember it in the morning. I know I will.

Yeah, right.

Always, always, when you have an idea as you are drifting off to sleep, write it down immediately. When you wake up, it will have disappeared like a gossamer thin mist in a morning breeze.

But don’t worry too much about those ideas that go AWOL from your head. There will be another one along soon.

Because that’s the thing. Ideas are easy to come by.

It’s turning the ideas into stories and novels and blog posts that’s the difficult part.

This is the part that requires work. The planting the butt in the chair and writing part.

The frustration, the boredom, the feelings of inadequacy.

I should know, I do it pretty much every day.

You have to work with your ideas, test them and exercise (or even exorcise) them and coax them into life. You have to live with them, add other ideas to them until you’ve got a little family. And of course that family of ideas will squabble with each other, and rub each other the wrong way. And sometimes one or two of them might even pack up and leave, having had enough of all that arguing. Or maybe they just feel they would be better off with another family of ideas. And sometimes new ones will turn up and throw everything into chaos.

And it can be hard work turning an idea into a story or a book or a blog post.

But ideas are easy.

That’s why everybody has them.

It’s the work that is hard.


Ken Preston

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