Idea Overload

Sometimes I'm asked, "Where do you get your ideas?"

Inspiration comes from everywhere. News stories, like yesterday's post. Song titles or lyrics. Watching people at work. Obscure holidays like Guy Fawkes Day. Thinking about church hymns. Watching my daughter learn about money. Sunrise on a train. Anything can inspire you if you let it. You can pick up ideas as easily as picking up fist-sized diamonds strewn across a beach, no matter where you go in your day. You just need to pay attention and accept what comes.

Ideas are the easy part. The hard part for me is developing them into something useful. Or some accurately finding the time to spend on developing ideas. I work. I spend 3.5 hours a day travelling to and from work. I spend time with my family. I sleep, most nights not nearly enough. I only manage to cram writing in on the train.

I'm trying an experiment this week - a blog post every weekday. So far so good - this post makes 4 in a row. But do the ideas I write about suffer for lack of incubation time? Or am I just tapping the huge backlog of ideas trapped in my head over the years I spent away from gaming? At this point I'm not sure it matters - it just feels good to write and get the ideas down on paper, even if the paper is completely virtual.

I think the zero prep model of gaming really fits for me. Many times I went into a session of my 3.5 campaign with only a vague notion of what happens next, like that game on Guy Fawkes Day. I came up with the idea of a group trying to treat magic as a fissionable material. The explosion demolished a mountain, but the party managed to remove the magic items and prevent more widespread destruction. In fact, I think that was the last game before Adris went on hiatus.

Point is, I didn't write anything up. There were magic items and barrels of gunpowder and shadow-walking red dragons guarding the Githyanki setting up the experiment. All of the stats were recycled from past encounters. The map spontaneously generated itself as we played. And the teleport just before the big boom rocked the house. Success!

Did it matter that I didn't write anything up? Not one bit. Everyone had fun, and if anyone caught on that everything about that adventure came flying out of my butt mere moments before it appeared on the game table, nobody seemed to care. Making the tools to pull this off seamlessly at the table is what I hope to document when I tackle Schrodinger's Gun GMing.

But blog posts are a different animal. They need to hang together a little more concretely, make sense, and be useful to the reader. Sometimes I feel like I'm writing for myself, which is ultimately true. There's no immediate feedback on the idea, no in-game tweaking based on player feedback. It's just me and the page, and sometimes the page wins.

Or more accurately, sometimes I can't get out of my own way and defeat myself.

Could I use more development time? Yes, many raw ideas need a little more time in the pressure cooker. But then I fall into the trap of never finishing. I can always edit ideas, but at some point they just need to be let free and see how they fly.

So let's open the door and see if this one takes flight.

And now I'm curious to find out if I'm a mutant or not. Care to share?
Where do you get your ideas?
How long do you let them steep in the teacup of your mind?
Do you edit and re-edit or just write them once and forget about them?
Are you happy with your process or do you want to change how you develop your ideas?

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