Your Library of Ideas

Happy Thursday! Why is it happy, you ask? Because fellow MD/DE/WV SCBWI member Michael Karg has sent in a guest post, thus making my job shamefully easy!

Michael is a veterinarian and picture book writer. You can learn more about him on his website and by following him on Twitter at @michaelkarg.

Take it away, Michael!

Your Library of Ideas

“It’s my head, Schwartz! It’s my head!”

John Malkovich rages against trespassers entering a secret portal to joyride inside his mind in the wonderfully absurd movie, Being John Malkovich (1999). Falling victim to a puppeteer, Malkovich cedes control of his body and mind.

Faced with the blank page, writers should beware of such passivity. Maybe you won’t be unceremoniously dumped alongside the New Jersey Turnpike, but idly petitioning a muse to whisper magic words is a pale and feeble choice compared with seizing inspiration by yourself.

The expression “butt in chair” is for actual writing. Daydreaming counts too, if you’re writing in your head. But simply staring at the white screen will not bring any answers. In those cases, get your butt out of your chair. Your head is a limitless library. When you’re out of ideas, it is time to go out into the world with the library door open. You mean like a giant bookmobile? Um, yeah, OK.

Stuff comes through the door in new music and nature walks and heated dialogues and digging in the dirt and learning how to juggle violins on a unicycle. Forget about getting another copy of the same old books you know by heart. And, forget about the things you forgot, since those tattered memories have outlived their usefulness. Filling up the brain by adding new stuff is the only way to get more ideas.

New ideas don’t come from routines. They come from new experiences within familiar structures. So, let’s keep routines of personal hygiene, consistent shelter, chocolate consumption, staying hydrated, and most importantly, sleep.  Sleep is literally essential for life. Sleep deprivation is torture ending in death. Do whatever it takes to sleep well. Exercise. Buy a better mattress. Kill your TV.

This library of yours gets a lot of use during the day and the books end up on piles on the floor, misfiled or waiting in tall stacks of new releases. Sleep is closing time for your library and everything must be put back on the shelves, or else you’ll trip over some, failing to find the ones you need or being crushed under the fallen heaps. Rejuvenation comes to us as dream, and to sleep well is to dream well. Dreaming well leads to an organized, tidy library in the morning. Peruse the aisles of your library, mixing and matching thoughts and ideas into today’s story.

It’s your head. Use it or lose it.

Thanks so much, Michael! Remember friends, you too are welcome to submit a guest post. Check out this post by Laura for submission guidelines.

Have a fabulous weekend!

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About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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One Response to Your Library of Ideas

  1. Fantastic affirmation about keeping the body and mind in positive spaces, in order to keep the ink flowing. Thank you for the gentle nudge.

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