The Lifespan of an Idea

An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. – Inception

It has the potential.  But how often is it?

The older I get, the more I think ideas are overrated.  I’ve heard many great ideas from people only to watch them fizzle and die away.

The dumbest person you’ve ever met will occasionally come up with a good idea or two.

Ideas are overrated.

Action, however, is severely underated.  How many bad ideas have you seen succeed just because people were willing to act on them?

Put your good ideas in action.  The world needs them.

Figuring Out Your Story’s Turning Points

Writers In The Storm Blog

by Jenny Hansen

One of my favorite speakers on writing is Jennifer Crusie. For some reason, she makes sense to me…as if she has an expressway dug directly into my writing mind. Stephen Cannell (creator of The Rockford Files) was the man who etched 3-Act Structure on my brain, but for turning points it was all Jenny Crusie.

Below is an excerpt of the talk she gave at an RWA conference a few years back, and I’m using it this morning to edit my fiction.

The 5 Turning Points ala Jenny Crusie:

A turning point is a part in the story where an event happens that throws the protagonist into a whole new place.

1st turning point is where things go from stable to unstable. You can start 5 mins before or after this turning point, but not later. You must introduce a protagonist that the reader wants…

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A Straight Line of Communication

I’m currently in the beginning stages of writing my first novel.  I’ve written plays and short films before, but never a novel.  The format is so different, not being reliant on dialogue and actors to complete the storytelling.  The entire process is up to me, to tell the story from start to finish.  The paint on the wall, the smell, the feeling in the air is all up to me and whatever vocabulary I have.

It’s the most direct line of communication I’ve ever had with an audience.  My words have always been filtered through several channels of creative input before finally emerging into the world.  But here I am, just me and this story.  Nothing interpreted oddly from the wrong use of lighting or ineffectively communicated from lack of operational budget.  No filter.  Me to you.  Just the words and our imaginations.

The Slaving Competition

Did you ever notice that people who are truly successful tend to be called artists, visionaries, great creative minds?

I’ve never heard of a person making it because they slaved better than everybody else.

Perhaps we’ve been fooled into thinking that hard work will solve everything.  Perhaps sitting in a classroom for many hours being told to not speak, don’t move and memorize all this information because it will be on the test was not the most effective way of raising people to live lives that will be filled with love and possibility to change the world.

Perhaps, we’ve been so ingrained in this system that we have no idea what we want?

Slow down, take a step back and look at the big picture.  Where do your eyes go?  Perhaps that is where you should be going.

All Creative Work Ends Up Rehashed

1)  Person vs Person

2)  Person vs Nature

3)  Person vs Animal

4)  Person vs God

5). Person vs No one

All plots boil down to a variation of one of these conflicts.  There is nothing truly new, unique or earth shattering about any story idea you think of.

What is truly new, unique and maybe even earth shattering is the way you tell the story.  There is no duplicating your perspective, your style, your sensibilities because they are based in things that only you have gone through.  Nobody can ever do it like you.

The only problem now is you have to do it.  And do it in a way that is truly honest to you.

The Economy of Second Chances

I fail.  He fails.  She fails.  They fail.  It failed.

The supply of second chances is smaller than the supply of failures.  No wonder the overwhelming tendency is pessimism.  There aren’t enough second chances to go around.

The mayor of San Diego is being told to resign by more or less all of the San Diego Democratic Party.  He refuses.  What does he do to make up for his years of abusing power and sexual harassment?  He signs himself up for two weeks of “intensive therapy”.

When there’s a short supply and high demand, the supply goes to whoever has the most influence.  That unfortunately means that those with influence, will get more second chances.

But who has more influence over you than yourself?

All the great figures in history have long track records of recurring failure.  They are only truly remembered for a few things that they did in their lives.  But the success that finally came through after giving themselves another chance to try again was so big that it made the failures irrelevant, even rewarding.

There doesn’t have to be a short supply of second chances.  Especially not towards yourself.

The Rose That Grew From Concrete

Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete
Proving nature’s laws wrong it learned to walk without having feet
Funny it seems but by keeping it’s dreams it learned to breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared!

– Tupac Shakur

Everywhere you look, someone is tryingto sell you something to get you the  perfect blahblahblah.  Get perfect abs with five minutes a day, get a perfect tan with this spray, get the perfect penis size with this pill.  They all stress an arbitrary and ultimately meaningless idea of perfection, one which is really a well branded product.  But what if perfection is not a goal to hit and then hold on to for dear life?  What if perfection is something else?

A rose grows from concrete and looks like shit.  It’s scratched, discolored and can barely keep itself up.  Society teaches us it’s ugly because it doesn’t fit the ideal picture of a rose.  But if you look at the concrete it grew from and saw where the rose earned its scratches and wilts, you see that because it’s not perfect, there will never be another rose like it.  Perfection.

Everyone grows from concrete.  Why wouldn’t you want your own scratches and wilts?

The Guise of Dignity

Everyone goes through tragedy.  In every persons life, it’s a given that sooner or later, you will be faced with challenges that require immense choices to be made.  You will be changed.  You won’t have the same perspective or attitude as you did before.

And yet, there is a societal pressure for people to always seem ok.  I have only known big city life so perhaps this is a unique characteristic to big cities.  Everyone is expected to be independently strong, stoic and courageous in moments of despair.  Is this a learned behavior from a lack of responsibility to each other or is this a reaction because we’ve stopped caring?  If everyone is expected to deal with problems on their own, then we as a society don’t need to be burdened with helping each other right?  To each his/her own.

Perhaps that’s the problem.  Too much individualism.  Dignity, stoicism mistaken as reasons to isolate ourselves from one another.  Don’t bother anybody with my problems.  But society wasn’t built by people refusing to help one another.

All type of knowledge ultimately means self knowledge – Bruce Lee

Humans are the only thing on the planet with the capacity for reflection and creativity.  But why?  Where does this come from?

I’ve read a theory that creativity is an evolution of our ability to make predictions for the future.  Humans have never been the most physically dominant species on the planet.  Because we couldn’t chase down faster prey, we started developing an ability to predict where an animal might be based on our knowledge of its speed, stamina, etc.  And as this ability to predict and plan evolved, we grew to become the top of the food chain.

Which I believe leads to creativity and expression.  For a significant portion of people, we’ve conquered the necessities for living.  Most of us have roofs over our heads, enough food to eat and clothes to wear.  But what then?  Within our relative comforts, a question unknown to everything else on this planet arises.

Why are we here?

And so we arrive at art and religion.  We passed a certain threshold in understanding the world around us before we started going inwards.  Where that threshold was, I can’t begin to imagine.  But at some point, we started imagining gods or perhaps, God.  We started drawing pictures and thinking of stories to somehow explain things that we were becoming aware of and had no explanation for.  We started singing songs and drawing on cave walls because of an urge, a need to understand ourselves.

Because at some point, we realized that part of understanding the world, was understanding ourselves.