Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ideas: Where do they Come From?

I recently finished a draft for a short play I was working on.  This particular piece had been sitting on my computer for over 6 months half-finished.  In an attempt to clean up some files on my computer, I came across a lot of works-in-progress.  Some of them clearly needed to be tossed, but there was something about this play that I liked and I felt it deserved to be completed.

I had no idea where I was going with it, but I did indeed finish writing the play.  I sent it to a trusted friend who I know will give me the straight dirt on whether the piece showed any promise or if it needed to be filed in the recycle bin.

The first thing she said was, "I liked it." (Phew!  Affirmation is good!)  The second thing she said was, "Where do you get these ideas?!?" (That's the punctuation she used and everything!)

So, I realized I couldn't answer that question.  I did not specifically set out to write the play that I wrote.  Does that make sense?  That's not always the case.  I recently finished a play that was a very specific assignment with a very specific theme and I knew what I needed/wanted to write.  But other times, like with this new short play, I wasn't sure where I was going.  I liked the characters; I liked the way they spoke to one another, and I let them lead the way.  It turned out to be a quirky little 10-minute play and I'll be having it read by my playwrighting group in a couple of weeks.  We'll see what they say about it and if they think it has any legs to go further.

But my point is, where do the ideas come from?  For me, they come from life.  They come from places you'd least expect it.  They come from eavesdropping in grocery stores and restaurants and standing in line at the bank.  (Yes...I'm a voracious eavesdropper, just so you know!) But my initial ideas usually morph into something else.  Nine times out of ten, the idea changes as the writing progresses.  Well, the core may remain the same, but not always.  You can't control creativity.  You gotta give it free reign...let it run wild.  When you do your rewrite...that's when you try to tame it a bit.  But rewrites?  Oy...rewrites are a bitch!

So tell me...where do your ideas come from?


Erin Cole said...

Congrats on finishing your piece, Debbie! That must be a big relief. Of course you know that I'd look stuff over too.

My ideas come from all over the place too - the store, many from my children, some from dreams, and a lot from just my own imaginings.

Right now, I've been in a big creative phase - lots of ideas, not so much writing, but I'm trying to ride with that, because some days, I have no ideas, and hopefully, more writing power.

Nicole MacDonald said...

Yup my ideas come from life :) and then my crazy imagination turns them into something super exciting!

The Arrival, on Amazon NOW!

Longtime DL Fan said...

I think the best ideas come from inspiration, no matter where you find it. It's those things that drive us, give us meaning, and sometimes even possess us.

That's why you are so special and successful, Debbie. You find inspiration everywhere, and you write about it.

And you inspire others to be the best they can be. That is why you are such a great acting coach. You see how your students can improve, and you give them something to tap into so that they can make their character real and believable. That's what all of the greats do.

MikeB said...

It's great to hear that you have finished writing another short play. And to think the half-finished product was patiently waiting in your files for you to pick it up again and complete it.

My ideas come from interactions with people, sometimes my grandson, sometimes my wife, sometimes strangers whom I meet and talk to. For example, the last poem I wrote was based on a conversation I had with a CPA who had MANY icons on her computer screen so she could keep all her audit data organized. I was sitting next to her on an airplane, and we were chatting, and she told me a lot of her coworkers had critized her for having so many folder icons. I told her that I thought having all those folders was good thing, and then I wrote a poem about that.

Back to you, Debbie. I am amazed at how manhy ideas you have, AND how many ideas you develop into something. Keep those ideas and plays coming.

Man-Man said...

I write occasionally, and I get ideas when my mind is clear. And my mind is clear when I am shaving, showering, or in the bathroom.