Idea Farming 02/06/21

It’s bizarre, the things that come out when you’re working on a novel.

I’ve worked on Dying World for four years in fits and starts, and it wasn’t until I had a solid 10k word “toolbox draft” (updated from the “investigative draft” I wrote about yesterday, shouts to Kelby Losack for that) that I felt the freedom to slow down and write.

I had something in the back of my mind that the book needed to be done yesterday. Or maybe I was misinterpreting that signal. Maybe I needed to be done assembling the tools yesterday.

Snippets of this novel’s false starts are now littered all over the draft: the ice cream selling in Portland, the deer-headed man, the long bar conversations about Alex Jones conspiracies. They’ve all settled nicely into place. They just weren’t the whole book.

It can seem a bit daunting to consider that four years of ideas are going into one piece of work. Will I have to wait another four years to accumulate enough shit to do it again? I don’t think so, and here’s why:

There’s no reason to suspect that those four years of ideas actually took four years to form. There’s no reason to suspect that they wouldn’t have shown up anyway if I’d used a similar process four years ago.

The sea of ideas is huge. They’re swimming out there waiting to be caught. The David Lynch Masterclass really shifted my thinking on this, moreso than his how-to book, Catching the Big Fish.

In the Masterclass, Lynch says, “If you want to make a movie, all you need is 70 ideas.” Through a process of quiet meditation/reflection, free of distraction, you will catch more than 70 ideas. It might take a few weeks, maybe it’ll take a month. But once you put those 70 ideas down, they begin to mix with each other. They create chemical reactions. They reproduce with each other, making offspring ideas. You’re now an “idea farmer” on the little plot of land that is your new novel.

It’s a beautiful rainy day. I hope your weekend is off to a great start.


  1. kelbylosack says:

    Reblogged this on heathenish ramblings and commented:
    The streak of craft-related meta musings on JDO’s blog (along with real-life conversations with him and Lucas Mangum) have been keeping the fire stoked for me, lately. I’m on a manic writing spree, not planning on slowing down.


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