Genius: A Small Ingredient

People will get an awesome idea and get right to work.  Then they realize one truth.  Anything worth having takes work.  It doesn't have to be difficult.  Suddenly, after a few days effort, they stop or quit, stating the inspiration has left them.

What the hell?

There’s a saying. “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.”  Thomas Edison.

To illustrate this, I’m going to paraphrase an example I’ve read by Michael Neill.  Google him.  He’s pretty damn cool.

I have a friend who works at Home Depot.  They have mountains of white paint in the paint department.  How ironic.  When a customer requests blue, for example, my friend places a few drops of blue in the white, and voila, you have blue paint. If the customer changes their minds and wants purple, a few drops of red and there you have it.  Purple.  The drops of colored paint is the inspiration, but the white base is the work.

In all arts, the inspiration is usually short lived.  But your passion and work carries it to fruition.  If people expect ever-flowing inspiration, then eventually the paint turns black.

When I was writing my novel, I had a big problem.  There are three basic types of fantasies.  A professional novelist pointed this out to me:

1.    Strange toad in a familiar garden.

a.     Witches, vampires, and werewolves in the real world.

2.     Familiar toad in a strange garden.

a.     Humans in middle earth, humans in space, humans at the center of the earth.

3.     Strange toad in a strange garden.

a.     Witches, vampires, or werewolves in space.

Mine is the third type. Which just happens to be the hardest because I have to world build the strange toad and the strange garden.  It wasn’t my choice.  It’s not like I sat down and said, “Wow. This sounds fun.  Let’s take the hardest freakin’ thing and jump.”

The story came to me.  And I ran with it.  Now came the hard part.  I needed tons of ideas to create this world.  So I sat down every day, wrote, and ideas came slowly at first.  Then within a few days I was flooded with them.  A lot of other artists has described similar experiences.  I had to buy a notebook or I’d forget them, which quickly filled with disjointednuggets of gold.

Did I use all of them?  Most.

The moral?

Follow through with your flashes of genius.  You’ll never know what will come.  If you need ideas to support your work, ask for them.  They’ll come.

Vampires in space.  Hmmm.

The Secret and The Action Thought

I've read a lot of books regarding success and personal growth.  There are three main things they focus on.  The way you think, the way you feel, and the way you act. One of the biggest publishing successes for personal growth was The Secret.  I have a copy of it.  It's main focus is thought.  Think it, dream it, and voila, it appears.

One  main thing it skims over is action.  The book refers to Jack Canfield.  It's actually my favorite part of the book.  One of the things he did was write a check out for $100,000 dollars and every morning he looked at it.  Then he got an idea, an inspiration to write a book.  He sold the book for .25 cents each.  He followed the golden nuggets of inspiration, advertised in the National Inquirer, and sold close to 400,000 copies.  Not only did he basically reach his envisioned goal, he celebrated.  Then he got another idea to write something called Chicken Soup for the Soul.  It was a bit successful.  If you call a major hit a bit.

What's the moral of the story?  Know where you are.  Know where you want to be.  Act on it.  Do something about it.  Just do it.  Sound familiar?  A small shoe company uses that slogan.

Years ago, my best friend and I were debating about what was more important.  Positive thought or Action thought.  What do you think?

You can wish to win the lottery, but until you buy a ticket, it's unlikely you're going to win.

Personally, positive thought is overrated.  Progressive thought, on the other hand, is awesome.  You want something?  Go for it.  Take the first step toward it.  Too many people want the success without putting the work behind it.  Think what you need to do to get what it is you want.

My friend coined the term progressive thought.  Thought that moves you toward your goal.  You want to be a great sprinter?  Sprint.  Want to be a great snowboarder?  Snowboard.  Want to write the great American novel?  Write.

And a small word on positive thinking.  It's not about thinking positively, but ignoring the crap that doesn't help you.  If a friend came up to you and said, "I wanna be an actor."  Most people would be like, "Good luck, dude.  It's like totally hard, man, and it's so not practical."  DON'T LISTEN TO THAT CRAP!  Let it roll off your back, have a progressive thought like, "I'm going to take acting classes."  You are now one step closer toward your dream.  Isn't that what Tom Hanks did?  Read his story.  It's amazing.

Just do it.

Collecting Golden Nuggets of Inspiration

My first post in Writer's Journey talked about where I got the idea for my hero of my book.  He's single handedly inspired me to create the world he lives in. In my bio, I talk about recurrences that happen.  A lot of self-help teachers call these inspirations, nuggets of gold, moments of genius.  Over the twenty or so years, bits and pieces of ideas have come and gone, all pertaining to this particular story.   Then someone in my imagination said, "This would be cool for your story."  I might need to seek some help.

I've mentally collected different nuggets of gold and stored them  in my noggin.  When I got serious and decided to write this book, I bought a tiny notebook and wrote down every single nugget of inspiration.  To my surprise, I've used most of them.  About a quarter of the ideas I threw out.  That's fine.  Better to have more than you need.

When I read or hear other artists talk about where they get their ideas, a lot of them use this method of collecting, writing them down.  JK Rowling did this.  I saw a special on her where she would write on napkins, cards, anything that would take ink.  I think if I tried to write this story early on in my life, I may not have had the opportunity to gather the ideas that I need.

Get a notebook.  For me ideas come when I do the most mundane things.  I'll be walking and all of a sudden, pop.  An idea.

A word of caution.  These ideas are fleeting.  There have been a number of times when I'm taking a shower, I get an idea, I take a moment to remember it, and poof.  It's gone.  Take the time to write these golden nuggets down.  It's these gold pieces of ideas that may change your writing, project, life.

Happy gathering.