Wednesday, February 7, 2018
IWSG: No More Shiny New Idea
I think it's safe to say that everyone reading this knows the concept of the "shiny new idea". It's something that happens to we writers when we're supposed to be working on something else and we get this idea out of nowhere that's just so cool.
I know this as well as anyone. My idea file is seventy-something pages' worth of ideas that once were new with varying levels of shininess. Most if not all of the blogs I read have had entries about this. It's one of the things that all writers, regardless of genre or book length or whatever else, seem to share.
And yet, it's something we complain about.
The visual we share of having a shiny new idea tends to be something like the dog from "Up" - it's like we're diligently working on whatever we're supposed to be doing, and then suddenly SQUIRREL! as the new idea appears. I thought about this for a while, about why it's such a common perception for having a new idea, and I realized what the problem is.
It's not the new idea that's the problem. It's calling it "shiny", like it's some pointless distraction that only serves to take our attention away from what we need to do. We act like we've got some sort of pseudo-ADD thing going on, that we can't help but be distracted by something we want to write right now. But that's not what it is.
Everything we do comes from new ideas. So why do we mock ourselves for having them?
As you might have noticed if you've been reading this blog for a while, I have a serious tendency to be self-deprecating. My therapist calls me out for doing this, and my usual response is "But I'm really good at it!" But as she's told me many times, the way we talk about ourselves and what we do affects us a lot. What we call things affects how we see them and how we feel about them.
And by mocking our own new ideas as "shiny", we're giving ourselves a negative association with something we writers need.
So here's my bit of advice: don't call it the shiny new idea. Call it the lovely new idea. Same number of syllables, even scans the same if you want to write a poem about it, but using nothing but positive words for something that really should be a good thing.
Enjoy your lovely new idea. Write it down. And when you have the time, show it the love it needs to grow into what you want it to be.
Next week: it's the Person, not the Thing.