Writers: Keep your brain — and your ears — open

Some time I ago, I wrote on this blog about where writers get their ideas.

The upshot was, ideas are everywhere. (Where do writers get their ideas? If you have to ask…)

This became hugely clear to me recently when a casual remark by someone opened a door in the writing part of my brain and became a good and expanding addition to my book. It happened twice within days.

I don’t believe in fate, or that some higher power is up there trying to steer me to book ideas. If there IS a higher power, I would hope she/he/it would be more concerned with bigger things. What I do believe, however, is that when your brain is in writing mode, things make sense and become missing pieces to the puzzle. Those are things that may have just passed through your brain without making an impression at another time.

I recently heard the Maine crime writer Gerry Boyle remark to an audience that writers are writing all the time — that even when they’re not sitting down at the keyboard what they’re working on is working itself out in their head.

I knew exactly what he meant and it’s why I have legal pads scattered all over the house. I don’t want to try to remember something if I don’t have time to sit down at the laptop.

So this post today is an addendum to the where writers get their ideas post. Always keep part of your brain open for that casual remark to settle in and poke your creative process.

And also keep your mind open to conversation, to pursue topics that interest you and ask questions of people who may have interesting things to say. No one was made more interesting by sitting at home staring at a screen, whether it be a computer screen, a television screen or a phone screen.

Everyone has read books where the dialogue is stiff, the ideas are stale and the writer seems to have used a steady stream of bad TV and movies for the plot. Those are writers whose books we’ll never pick up again.

The books that are good? They have interesting characters in them, interesting things happen and the writer has something interesting to say. You know those are the writers whose brains — and ears — are always open to what’s around them.



About Maureen Milliken

Maureen Milliken is the author of the Bernie O’Dea mystery series. Follow her on Twitter at @mmilliken47 and like her Facebook page at Maureen Milliken mysteries. Sign up for email updates at maureenmilliken.com. She hosts the podcast Crime&Stuff with her sister Rebecca Milliken.
This entry was posted in Craft, Maureen Milliken, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, Writing lessons. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Writers: Keep your brain — and your ears — open

  1. Nifty post, Maureen — of course, I am very curious to know what the two remarks involved! Ears open …

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s