The Idea Storm #writing #creativity

Hello, SEers. Mae here today with a look at Idea Storms.

Recently, I was in my family room, comfy on the couch, plugging away on blog posts, when I realized something spectacular was happening outside. The weather had been unusually hot and, as often happens during summer, a pop-up thunderstorm rolled into the area. The counties to the south and west of me were under severe weather watches, but since my area wasn’t in the main thoroughfare of atmospheric upheaval, I hadn’t been paying much attention to the sky.

Until a low rumble of thunder drew my attention out the patio door.

A moment before, the sky had been blue and clear. Now, it was a canvas of brooding charcoal and dark blue. Even as I watched, a swiftly moving front swallowed what little clear sky remained, drawing a distinctive line on the horizon. I managed to snap a few shots before the rain started.

Storm clouds gathered above a tree line

 

The force and suddenness of that storm still catches me by surprise.

As writers, ideas are much the same for us. How often have you been happily immersed in your latest WIP only to be blindsided by an idea from left field? And not just any idea, but an idea storm. Like unsettled weather, these come on suddenly and are charged with pent-up energy, waiting to explode into a fresh story. The idea storm demands attention, but for all its ferocity it’s also beguiling. Flashy and spontaneous, it takes a supreme contest of wills to resist.

I love the turbulence of a creative front and the rush of inspiration it unleashes in me. Unfortunately, idea storms often burst onto the scene when I’m already committed to another writing project. Sound familiar?

Like many authors, I try to set my idea storms aside, jotting a few notes with the promise I’ll reward myself with them later. Sometimes when I return they’re not as magical as they originally seemed. The luster has faded. Other times, they prove to be just what I needed and I take off on a tangent, inspired.

For the most part I still set the tumult of an idea storm aside, returning when I complete my current project. That’s the disciplined writer in me, a trait I worked long and hard to master. But there are occasions – oh, so many— when I want to fly and soar with the storm. I’m currently fighting two of those now (as if one wasn’t enough), but so far I’ve resisted the spell they’ve woven.

What about you? How do you handle an idea storm when you’re already committed and immersed in another WIP? Do you set it aside or do you try to work on both simultaneously? It’s always beneficial to learn how other writers work, so stop a moment and share.

Ready, set, go!

Bio box for author, Mae Clair

 

67 thoughts on “The Idea Storm #writing #creativity

  1. Oh, how I love this analogy, Mae! These are moments of sweet bliss and awakening anguish for which I have no means to master, nor will to tame. lol I’m fascinated by our mind’s craving to take us to new worlds, summoned somehow by an innate force to do so. I have my trusty notebook with me always, though! So that helps to keep things in order… somewhat. Yay for idea storms. Thanks again for sharing. Have a fabulous weekend. Cheers to all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad this one resonated with you, Natalie. I always have a notebook handy too, because you never know when an Idea Storm will strikeI I love your take about new worlds, sweet bliss and awakening anguish—so poetic it weaves idea storms of its own 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I suppose I would write it in, if the character I was writing was affected by it. Otherwise it would join the festering bank of unprocessed first paragraphs that stick in my hard drive’s craw like a residue of arsenic, steadily poisoning it until the day it totters and dies. Most of my idea storms occur at three o’clock in the morning, and you should NEVER develop an idea spawned in the small hours – always wait until you’ve seen how it looks in the cold light of day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have always thought of 3AM as the magical hour, Frederick. Perhaps that is why idea storms arrive in a deluge at that hour. I do agree those ideas, so shiny and tempting in the wee hours of the morning can often fall flat when examined during the rational, cold light of day. But even if they end only on your hard drive as first paragraphs and nothing more, they are a glimmer that arrived with purpose. Even the way you express your idea storms has a gritty and raw kind of lyricism. Hopefully, many of those ideas and paragraphs will cyclone into much more.

      BTW, I am nearly 50% through Black Crow Speaks. What a fabulous collection of stories!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s true that on the fallow days I trawl among the rejected sludge for something bearing signs of life and hope. Sometimes an idea can grow from the idea, if you see what I mean? Interesting you are a night-owl, too, in that sense. So glad you’re surviving ‘Black Crow’ and thank you. Please, any criticisms would be welcome. In my doddering way, I do seek to improve.

        Liked by 1 person

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  4. Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:

    I get these all the time my. It’s why I’ve got notes on so many books. I so need to dictate some of them. I have had to let them sit in odd corners for a while or I’d never finish current projects. Read about dealing with idea storms by Mae Clair on Story Empire.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There is nothing more exhilarating than getting swept away in an idea storm! I love it! But, like you, if I am working on a project, I simply have to satisfy that storm with either a hastily jotted outline or even just a scene. That happened to me when I was in the middle of writing The Convict and The Rose. I had the idea storm for When Two World’s Collide. So I stopped long enough to write the first chapter and make some notes. It was two years later that I wrote When Two World’s Collide and it is still unpublished. But the force of that storm carried me through the story to completion . There is nothing like it!! Thank you for sharing, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love that you were able to follow through on your Idea Storm, Jan. You were smart to get a first chapter down while you were working on The Convict and The Rose. I’m not sure I could have done that but I can see how it would make a huge difference in carrying momentum for the new project when you were ready to tackle it. Having that first chapter written probably also allowed you to put the distract aside so you could finish TCaTR. Way to go!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I generally like to focus on one project at a time. However, I’ve got a few things brewing in the background, so whenever those idea storms hit, I take notes on paper, set up a new folder on my computer or add to an existing one… Don’t want any rainbows to slip away! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love a good analogy, and I love this post. You described exactly what happens. I developed a hierarchy for my ideas. There is the Notes app, occasionally a sheet in my word processor. If the ideas persist, they get a storyboard. I have multiple storyboards going at any time. By doing this, I always have something to work on that’s virtually ready to go. This speeds up the drafting process. Recently, I started writing two stories at a time, and it can be done. I don’t know if I’d recommend it, but I’ve been able to do it. Oddly enough, my latest creative storm has a storm in it, a big one. Wonderful post today.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I actually thought of your storyboards when I was imagining ways to organize notes for all those “storms” that arise. You’re also one of the few authors I know who can work on more than one story at a time and manage that juggling act with ease. There is absolutely NO WAY I could handle that.

      I had an idea storm last night as I was laying in bed and thought “I need to start a storyboard.”

      Glad to hear that your storms have storms. That’s a whole weather front! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wouldn’t exactly say I manage it “with ease.” But it’s nice to jump tales when one hits the middle slog. I can still be productive, and sometimes that creativity sparks something that nudges the other story along.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I am as scattered as the idea storm. I like working on more than one project at a time, it keeps me from getting stale, but I need to be more focused. And they always seem to hit me when I am doing a blog prompt. Some prompts have the potential to lead to great novels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michele, there aren’t many writers who can work on more than one story at a time. If you can do it and be productive, go for it! I have never managed that knack.
      I do agree that blog prompts can be great fodder for longer tales. You’ve done several that have a ton of potential for further development!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I am very obsessive, Mae, so I tend to get very involved in one particular project and find it hard to tear myself away from it. However, I decided to try to get my Anglo Boer War novella finished before I go on holiday later this week so I went back down that rabbit hole from Thursday last week. I am still hoping to get there.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I think you can be very productive sticking with a single project, Robbie. It’s how I’ve always worked, but I do like to jot notes so I don’t forget the storms.
      It sounds like your novella will be a good distraction, especially since you have a goal of finishing it on a timetable. I have my fingers crossed that all works out as you hope and plan! 🙂

      Like

  10. So well written, Mae… I warm to the notion of “storm ideas,” and have had similar. Mine, usually arrive in the early hours of the morning and are normally zany. Two of them were quirky and i used them in posts. Two of my three sons asked “What were you on when you wrote them, Ma?” as if I ‘dabbled.’ It’s fun to move out of your comfort zone now and then.’ Wishing more on you. Cheers! x

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi, Joy! It sounds like you’ve had fun with some of your idea storms, LOL. I like the idea that they usually strike at a particular time of day. That ties in with another post I shared on Story Empire not that long ago–When are you at your most creative? I wish you many more “storms.”

      It’s true we need to step our of our comfort zones now and again. 🙂

      Like

  11. I love idea storms as you call them. I have notebooks filled with them. Some I pursue others hunt me. Those, the one that won’t leave me alone are the ones I need to write. They are not patient and they help me to finish my current project

    Liked by 4 people

    • Keep filling those notebooks, JoHawk! Idea storms grab us for a reason and while they don’t always amount to a full length novel or even a short story, I’m convinced they keep our muse active and nimble. I like the idea that those creative storms sometimes hunt you down 🙂

      Many thanks for dropping by and sharing with us today!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Two storms hitting you at the same time? Lucky you! I love it when stories do their damndest to snag you. But like you, I usually resist, scribbling notes all over the place for later. Those ideas always look like they’ll fly on the page and the story will write itself with only your fingers doing the work, but they all hit that soggy middle. And that’s when another idea storm looks really tempting:) Hope your storms hold up with time and turn into great books when it’s their turn.

    Liked by 4 people

    • And would you believe another idea storm hit me last night while laying in bed. Isn’t that always when the best ideas hit, LOL? I need to start making notes and save it for later. You’re right that glossy and flashy when they strike, and even start off with a blast but the soggy middle is inevitable, I’ve become pretty disciplined over the years, sticking with my current WIP, but those storms are tempting! I guess we’re lucky that they power through now and then leaving us with those marvelous morsels for later.
      Happy writing, Judi!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. One of my favorite smells is that of first fallen rain. 🙂 As for new ideas, I write down everything that comes to mind, and then I set it aside until more inspiration hits, especially if I’m working on another project. I’ve never been able to write two stories at the same time.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m the same way, Yvette. I can only work on one story at a time. I find it too distracting otherwise. I think I need to start growing a larger notebook of ideas though.
      And the smell of fresh fallen rain, is certain to inspire an idea storm or two. I love that scent!

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I love a good rain storm. I could sit and watch (and listen) for hours.

    Idea storms are a mixed bag for me. I love having inspiration hit, but I hate having to wait to work on these ideas. My schedule is too tight to indulge a spark of creativity when it happens, though. I keep an idea file (because you know I’d forget otherwise) and when I complete a project, I check to see what concept has me most interested. That’s what I start with.

    Great photo and thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you,, Staci. My notes from my idea storms are scattered all over the place. I think I need to start becoming more precise with them so that I can add notes while still working on my current WIP (like Craig’s storyboards). I have more freedom now without having deadlines hanging over my head, but I’m still a stickler for staying with my current project.

      My dad and I used to sit on the front porch and watch thunderstorms roll in. Even today, I love the atmospheric changes that take place before a storm hits. It’s a “betwixt” time…something I plan to address in an upcoming SE post. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • You sound just like me, Tessa. I’m all about finishing what I start, then the idea storm is my reward for when I finish. But it would be fun to follow that flashy storm just once and see where it leads.:)

      Lovely to have you visit on Story Empire!

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I’m currently working on multiple projects. Or I should say multiple short stories for one project. I can’t do two full-length novels at once, but I have set one aside to write a short story. Being indie means I can do that. If I had a deadline, it would be another matter.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Deadlines are killers. I’m still adjusting to the idea that I have freedom now that they’re not hanging over my head.I’m with you on the two full-length novels at once–no way could I do that. But maybe a short story. That would be a mini break, almost like a writing exercise. Glad it’s working for you, Joan!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. I love the idea of an idea storm! Actually, I’d have to say there’s an idea tempest going on in my head usually daily 😁
    I had a bad storm a ew weeks ago which completely threatened to derail my WIP. I ended up writing down the main points and I know I’ll come back to it, but it’s hard not leaping into it now… even though it’s been a few weeks since the storm hit 🤗

    Liked by 4 people

    • Powerful storms always linger. It sounds like you’ve really been tempted with yours, Jess. They definitely have the power to derail a WIP if we’re not careful.

      I do know a few writers who have the ability to work on multiple projects at once and do it well. I’ve never had that gift. I have to keep the WIP on the track on matter how tempted I am. Wouldn’t it be great if we had more time to write so we could finish a project and move onto another without guilt! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  17. That’s happening to me right now, lol. I keep having an idea about Night and Day nagging at me, where you either live in the night or in the day and you never have any cross-over with the ‘other side’. But, dammit, I’ve got this darn trilogy to write!!! All I can do is make notes and keep it for later, and then we’ll see. If I went with my storm of ideas all the time, I’d never get a thing finished, lol 🙂

    Reblogged this on: https://harmonykent.co.uk/the-idea-storm-writing-creativity/ … What do you do when your brain storms you? Check out Mae Clair’s post over on Story Empire >>>

    Liked by 3 people

    • Good point that we’d never get anything finished, Harmony, but–wow!—I like the sound of your idea storm. And not only do you have to juggle your WIP, you’ve got three with your trilogy! Like you said–make notes. Lots of notes, LOL! If only we had time to flesh out every idea storm that comes along, that would be a writer’s dream.

      Many thanks for reblogging the post!

      Liked by 1 person

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