Okay, not a regular hoarder with empty tin cans and decades old newspapers. Think of it this way: do you have pretty underwear tucked away in a drawer, waiting for that perfect romantic date to wear it? Do you have a set of fancy, expensive china that you keep “for good?” That is, only when the most special of occasions warrants hauling it all out? Yet, somehow those occasions never arise, or else, they’re never quite special enough to justify the extra effort. Or is there anything else in your home that’s “too nice to use” and so, guess what, you never use it?
Well, I used to be that way with ideas. Like most writers, I have a pile of ideas jotted down in notebooks or scraps of paper. I would paw through them when I was ready for a new project, seeking something to write about. But there were some ideas that I always passed over–not because they were not good, but because they were too good. I had the irrational sense that they were too good for whatever small market I had in mind. I was saving them for the blockbuster novel or the world-changing essay I was going to write “some day.” Well, I stopped doing that. First of all, I had the equally irrational sense that ideas were limited. They are not. There’s always more coming into my head. Second, it’s not the idea that counts. It’s what we do with it. It’s how we shape it into a poem, essay or other material. Third, I’ve found that a new idea loses it’s appeal to me over time. So now, if I have a good one, I don’t “save it for good.” Rather I flesh it out right away, even if I don’t get it into finished form. And guess what? Using those ideas ends up generating even more ideas. This is not a new concept or one just discovered by me. Just as writing begets writing, bringing ideas to life begets more ideas. Good to know.