I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I miss my blog. I post a lot of short updates to Facebook, and I Twitter, but I rarely take the time to come up with a thoughtful blog topic. There are several reasons for that, but I think the primary one is that I just allowed myself to get out of the mindset of generating ideas.
This has been on my mind because I’m aware that the things I post to Facebook are somewhat ephemeral, in the sense that if FB one day disintegrates, the photos and everything else on there will also go away. When I post something to my blog–a photo or a recipe or some of my introspective thoughts or questions–I know I can go back and access it anytime I want. I like that feeling of ownership (and the ease with which I can search my blog to find a favorite recipe–you have no idea what my recipe box looks like). ;-)
It occurred to me the other day, too, that the time when I was blogging a lot was also the time I was writing the most fiction–something I’ve also done far too little of these days. And I really think that the reason behind that is the mindset. I posted a question to Facebook one day asking my friends how they brainstormed new novel ideas, and I got some of the most wonderful answers. (I wished then that I’d posted the question to my blog, though I’m not sure I would have gotten as many responses here–something I can talk about in another post.) My favorite response, though, came from author Laura Anne Gilman, who said,
The trick is to be open to a passing thought, and then grab it and feed it scraps until it grows into something. After a while, you learn to do that while you’re going about your day, without conscious effort. Then it’s your job to sort out what’s workable and what’s just Bright!Shiny!
And successful writing, whether it’s fiction or blogging, has a lot to do with idea generation, and I’ve come to realize that idea generation has to do with mindset. I’ve heard bestsellers say that they get a hundred ideas a day of things to write, and the trouble is picking one. I think that that mindset is something that has to grow on you, if you don’t have it already. When I was blogging all the time, my mind was constantly recognizing potential blog topics in the world around me–things I thought would interest my readers or things I thought I could write interestingly about. And in the same way, I was also getting ideas for fiction. I would notice things around me or topics my mind flitted to, and my mind would feed those ideas and see if they evolved. When I cut back on blogging a few years ago, those topics would still occur to me regularly, but because I didn’t blog them, the ideas just…tapered off. Really, that’s a pity, because I miss the camaraderie I had through my blog. But as my mindset changed, ideas for fiction tapered off as well. Most of the time in life, if we ignore something, it really doesn’t go away. In this case–in being mindful, though–I think that you can starve out ideas through neglect, and you can change your mindset for the worse because of it.
With that thought it mind, I’m going to try to recapture my own mindfulness. And I’m going to try posting to my blog more often as part of it. I feared for a long while that if I posted things that didn’t have to do with copyediting, people would get bored and go away. However, nothing is also boring. :-) So if you don’t mind putting up with my favorite recipes, pictures of my kids, and the occasional rumination on whatever topic my mind has flitted onto that day, I’ll hopefully see you in the comments. I’m going to do my best to always reply to them, too, because so many of you have such wonderful observations to offer.
And of course, if you have any thoughts on the mindset of idea generation, I’d love to hear them. :-)
I'm a freelance copyeditor specializing in fantasy and science fiction. SF/F novels I have copyedited have been finalists for (and have sometimes won) the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke, Endeavour, Golden Spur, John W. Campbell Memorial, Quill, Locus, Philip K. Dick, British Science Fiction, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy awards. In 2007 I became the first and only copyeditor ever short-listed for a World Fantasy Award.