Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ideas: The "Other" Noun.

"Do you know what a noun is?" I asked my new tutee during one of our first sessions together. 

"A person, place, or thing," she dutifully answered. 

"Or an idea. Ideas are also nouns," I told her. "Do you know what ideas are? Love..hope...peace. Those are all ideas. They're nouns as well." 

Ideas are nouns I deal with on an everyday basis. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because some days, all I DO is churn out ideas. Some days, I hardly get anything tactile done, like finishing articles or dragging JPEG files into folders, because I am too busy just brainstorming. 

Not that I'm complaining. After all, my Twitter and Facebook pages both proclaim that "I love ideas most of all, next to people." 
I love to thumb through my books, read a sentence that strikes me (or a poem) and feel the proverbial lightbulb go off over my head. 

Now and then, I feel like the amount of production is leading to quantity over quality. Take yesterday, for example, when I told my boss about an idea I had for the cover image on March/April's issue of Mount Pleasant. It wasn't our first idea (that one fell through) but it was something. 

"What are your other ideas?" he asked. "I'm not excited about that one." 

Talk about deflating my lightbulb. I went back to my desk, frustrated, and kept thinking. 

I was just telling someone the other day how my work never ends, since I'm a writer and magazine editor. My work is to create ideas, which is something I never stop doing, whether it's the weekend or the middle of the night. Sometimes, I'm downtown on a Saturday, looking at something in a cute boutique, and an idea strikes me. It's just like when a poem strikes me. 

In the age of too much information, I never turn off my smartphone or my thoughts. I'm always listening for the next big idea, whether the source is internal or external. But what I'm learning is that I have to sift through all of them, figure out which ideas are good ones right that instant--like having a glass of bourbon on the rocks and reading through my copy of Lucktown--as opposed to which ones are best for the next day--like calling Brian, my coeditor, and asking why a freelancer used a certain word to describe something when another word would've been better. 

I have a hard time relaxing sometimes, but I think if I learned to sift through my ideas and learn which ones need immediate addressing, I'd be better off. Mental organization is highly important. Our minds are like one big closet, after all. A closet with no back wall, like Narnia. 


  1. Yes! Ideas are things and brainstorming should get more consideration in creative fields like writing, graphic design, etc. I write for work, but the emphasis is always on how much posts we churn out. I hate "churning."

  2. Ideas are encounters with the universe that involve our entire being--it doesn't seem fair to say ideas are things we can have, a real idea is an event we are and are sucked into.