The Perfect Storm – Finding Novel Ideas

I’m reluctant to call myself a writer. To be considered a writer in my opinion, you need to have published something therefore I’ll settle for the moniker of blogger for now.

I’m halfway through writing my third novel. I have done very little thus far to promote my own work at least in its current form.

Self-publishing as a route to market appeals to me – the great leveller in the industry where those without the experience, education or network can find their target market in a quicker, more elegant way. However, because the barriers to entry are so low, the market is awash with sub-par, rushed books.

However valid the criticism toward the traditional publishing model may be, at the very least great pains are taken to ensure that the final product will be well edited, free from error, glaring plot holes and in essence of a higher quality. Many self-published authors don’t have the self-awareness to allow their ‘baby’ to be critiqued which is a shame because the industry suffers as a result. It hurts those who really do care that the final product is well-presented.

I’ve been writing in some capacity either through blogs or short stories for the best part of ten years now. I’m also a stickler when it comes to vocabulary, grammar and ensuring there are no mistakes in what I write. I personally blame my overbearing school Headmaster for this.

If Master Laverty noticed as much as a comma out of place or used incorrectly, he would unleash his trademark 360 twisting the top of your ear full circle until it felt like it would detach from your head.

Many self-pubbed prolific authors like J.A. Konrath seem to be able to spit out novels every other month. Which is great when you already have the demand. For Joe Public who is trying to get off the ground, it can be little bit of a punt as to whether there is a market for your book. But some of that guesswork can be taken out by ensuring you have an idea that is worth exploring and that resonates with others.

Popular blogger James Altucher suggests that to become an ‘idea machine‘ we need to be engage our mind in pursuits almost to the point of mental exhaustion, much like a muscle so that it becomes more efficient at finding short-cuts and solving problems.

On the flip side, I’ve read Buddhist and spiritual texts that indicate that mental breakthroughs and moments of clarity and inspiration come about not when the mind is focussed on a single goal, but rather when it is completely loose and relaxed. Those ‘A-Ha‘ moments emerge in moments of mental quietude – drifting off to sleep, taking a shower or engaged in some otherwise menial task.

The first novel I wrote centres on the theme of lucid dreaming, and was inspired by my first and only such dream ten years ago which left a strong impression on me. Most of my ideas come to me not through brainstorming or research but through conversations with friends, chance encounters with strangers or something I read in the news.

lucid-dream-flyingSome of these are worth exploring. Most aren’t.

But sometimes two random unconnected ideas have sex and their union captures my attention so vividly that I can’t help but write it down.

It feels like I’ve suddenly been impregnated and the seed grows in me until I simply have to give birth to it and complete the blog post/novel/short story.

I think it helps to have an inquisitive mind too. I like to consider ‘what if?’ scenarios and question the norm. I also like to veer off traditional channels and plug into other streams of media sources.

A cousin introduced me to David Icke recently – controversial author and conspiracy theorist. Icke’s crusade for the past 25 years has been to wake up the masses and raise our collective awareness of a bigger picture that involves a secret society who have been manipulating us for millennia.

Love him or loathe him, he has incredible support from certain sections of the community who almost raise him to Messianic status lauding him as a visionary ahead of our times. Others feel that he is at best a crazed loon, and at worst a danger to society

I personally find a lot of his teachings interesting and insightful. That’s not to say I agree with everything he has to say but at the very least, he expands the boundaries of my imagination and opens up my mind to what is possible.

Anything or anyone that can help you tap into that stream of consciousness where ideas are born can only be a positive thing.

Master story teller Stephen King, one of the most creative imaginations of our time describes TV as poisonous to the creative mind. To get those cogs working and become a magnet for new ideas you need to read a lot and write a lot.

Who am I to argue with the King?

13 thoughts on “The Perfect Storm – Finding Novel Ideas

  • Like this post Aiden. I’ve gone the self-publishing route myself-even before the advent of ebooks (a young adult novel entitled The Gardens of Sir Verity which I released in 1998 and re-released a revised ebook edition a few years ago). Sure it doesn’t have the prestige as it would through a traditional publishing house, but 99% is getting them to give you – an unknown – the time of day. What’s your upcoming novel about?

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    • Thanks for reading Ben. Couldn’t agree with you more. Are you still writing novels? My current project is about a Priest who fancies himself as a Detective, investigating the mysterious death of a local in the small village community which the authorities have dismissed as a suicide. The village has been harboring a murderer and a dark secret that the Priest is trying to uncover. I’m from a small village in Northern Ireland so drawing on a lot of personal experience.

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      • I think it’s always best to write what you know. Sounds like its in the mystery/thriller genre, which is one of my favorites. Keep your readers up to date when it is ready to go. In addition to the travel book I hope to release in the coming months, I am in the process of editing/formatting an ebook entitled The Pontine Riddles, about a newlywed couple honeymooning on the Italian island of Ponza who stumble across a series of cryptic riddles from a lost piece of American history that takes them around the island and across Europe on a race to find the truth (sadly, not northern Ireland). I came up with the idea when I honeymooned on the island (no riddles for me) and thought that somebody had to write a novel set here – it had that much character.

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  • Love the idea and the fact you’re using your own travel adventures and experience to boot! Would love to hear how it works out for you and will be tuning into your blog in anticipation in 2015 🙂

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  • What made me start reading your blog was your ability to tell a story based on your trip experiences. You managed to get me involved in your trip and when finish reading your blog, always left me craving for more. I am looking forward to what 2015 has for you, and would love reading one of your novels. Have a great year Aiden!!!

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  • I agree about TV destroying the creative process and it gives very little in return. But I enjoy watching it late at night when I’m tired and burned out. And who’s judging that you aren’t really a writer? I think that voice in your head needs to go back into its box. Enjoy your accomplishments! We’re all creative, regardless of what we do. You write consistently, whether blogging or working on a novel. That makes you a writer.

    Nancy

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