Ravyn Freewrites: The Lost Ideas

Where have my ideas gone, I wonder? They were there when I was young, and could churn out a story, two hundred and change pages in my handwriting on college ruled paper with a .5 mechanical pencil, in about a school year. They were there when I was in college, and could sometimes run game two nights a week without having to ask anyone “So what do you want to do?” Now? It’s hard to say.

It might be that my creativity is more thinly spread. In the beginning, I didn’t roleplay much, and was a player for all of it; I had my story, and I had occasional PC decisions but there really wasn’t much room to change the plot, and that was it. In college, I began running game, discovered characters who could change things and think for themselves, was challenged to figure out who these people were when they weren’t onstage. Now… one daily blog, one game design group, running two games, nursing ideas for two stories, and then there’s work and its daily puzzles and challenges.

It might be less time sitting bored. Back in school, it wasn’t unheard of for me to finish a project before half the class, and I never did quite get the hang of lunch breaks that didn’t involve sitting somewhere either writing or talking to other people who wrote. In college, I still scrawled game plans while waiting for class to start, or mulled over possibilities while waiting for friends to meet me for dinner—and now I could talk with them about the things I was stuck on.

It might be that I’ve gotten these people in my creative process. Before, what I came up with was entirely my own inspiration, and any idea-bouncing I did with my friends was an added bonus. Now, I bounce ideas with my friends, and at times I almost worry that if I work completely alone something in my idiosyncratic understanding of the world is going to scream out unrealistic to everyone who looks at it (as things that I could find research precedent for have sometimes done.) And it’s just not as much fun without feedback, somehow.

I wonder, though, if some of it isn’t the things that I no longer seem to do with my time. Back in the day, there were days spent on housework and yardwork, I spent a lot of my time working on beading projects and thinking about just about everything else, and if I was distracted it was just music. Nowadays, there are things I do that don’t require my full mental processing—walking comes to mind—but I find myself multitasking, sewing mostly when the television’s on, listening to audiobooks as I walk to work, flitting from slow IM conversations to archive-binges on webcomics or TV Tropes. My logic is simple: more inputs means something might stick and give me a topic, or a sense of where game might go, or help with the background for a piece of worldbuilding.

Where do the ideas go? Any of these. All of these. All that matters is getting them back.

3 comments

  1. Wow. I’m having a very similiar experience. I can’t stand the feeling of being so “unproductive.” I have half-finished stories and novels on my hard drive, dozens of books I would love to read, projects around the house I need to do, and yet I find myself whiling away the hours doing… nothing. Even when I was off work for awhile last year, I just couldn’t seem to make any use of my time.

    I shouldn’t complain much, I’ve actually been gaming more lately than I have for years, but that’s part of the reason I don’t have time to work on my own projects. I need to find a balance between life, work, fun and doing the things that make me feel like I’m creating something worthwhile.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Sorry to hijack your space. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  2. UZ says:

    This is normal. Finishing a story is difficult; poor time management is easy; the two don’t mix.

    When we were younger, we generally had more free time, but age brings responsibilities that you can’t ignore the way you could ignore them before. Certainly high school is the last time I learned to play a musical instrument…

  3. UZ says:

    Also I should advise, your ideas will come back as long as you keep using them. A flower won’t grow if there’s no room. That’s why I write so much open-ended gunk on so many websites :)

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