Trolling the Shallows

Some parts of the writing process are work... serious drudgery, in fact. It takes discipline to plunk oneself down and write, with or without fickle inspiration. It takes will power to complete a project when the going gets tough, and it's just as tough to read through the manuscript for the tenth time and do your level best to see what it would take to make it better.

But today, I get to do the fun stuff. Today's a day I plan to spend "trolling the shallows," fishing for ideas for an upcoming proposal. When trolling, I have no idea what juiciness my hooks will snag. I'll go through my "idea files" and look over half-formed thoughts. I'll thumb through magazine and newspaper articles I've been saving because something in them called to me. I'll Google to my heart's content, flitting from topic to topic related (barely, in many cases) to one or another of the thoughts darting through my shallows.

It's not a day for in-depth research, not a day for much of anything but reeling in thoughts and admiring their glittering scales before throwing them back to swim free again beneath the surface.

Since I have a contracted novella to write (all too quickly, thank you) some might see this as a wasted day, but I can assure you that it won't be. Because as I work on my novella project, some minnow will turn into a fine, fat keeper, an idea to keep me busy for months and months to come.

So what are your favorite places to troll for new ideas? How do you recognize when the right one comes along?


jennymilch said…
Have fun, Colleen! And props to you for posting an answer to the supposedly unanswerable "where do you get your ideas" ;)

The things that intrigue me most are situations. What if someone went on vacation and...

Or, what if someone woke up and her husband was...

They hit me at all sorts of inconvenient times (when I'm waiting for a train and just happen to envision a whole trainload of people going missing.) Scare the bejeesus out of me, but if there's a story in it, that's okay...

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