THE COUNTDOWN DAY NINE | ON IDEAS [con un video]

Saturday, September 9, 2017


I LOVE coming up with ideas.

I think it's always been my strong point. Usually most of the ideas are trash, and I'm still in the process of figuring out what's a good idea or not, but I've learned that the ideas that stick in my head are the ones that are worth developing. 

Coming up with ideas for blog posts, books, and videos are different processes. I don't really control how my brain works when it comes to thinking of ideas, but I've noticed several patterns in my idea-making, and I thought for this blog post, I'd share them with you.

For blog posts, I tend to think of the title first. For example, I have a separate document with some ideas for titles of blog posts I could possibly write for this series. These include "Are You There, God? It's Me, Rachel," and "Shouting Into the Void." I have a very, very basic idea of what I want these blog posts to be about, and they're usually thematic and/or conceptual/abstractish. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't.

Of course, "title first" isn't how I operate all the time. For example, right now, it's 11:53 p.m. and I'm scrambling to finish this in time to put it up by 12 a.m. It probably won't happen by then, but to be honest, I was pretty desperate to come up with something that wouldn't require too much effort on my part. Keeping up with a series like this is quite tiring (how did I ever post every single day before?). I've had a lingering idea of writing about how I come up with ideas, so I just took that wisp, hung onto it, and am clinging on for dear life.

For books, inspiration comes in a variety of ways. I know a lot of writers talk about how their characters walk into their heads and start talking or whatever, but my stories often begin with concepts and not people. Which, I've begun to learn, doesn't often make a story. Stories are supposed to be about people, or organisms with people-like characteristics; that's how they connect with readers. 

In several of my past projects, I've found myself forcing the character into the story instead of letting the character create the story, which is why I've abandoned so many projects. I have lots of good ideas, but I never learned until recently that a good idea doesn't make a good story. Just because a concept is intriguing doesn't mean it makes a good book. At the heart of the story is the characters, which is why a simple story about a man and his struggle against a massive fish might be more poignant than a super-cool sci-fi allegory about emotionally stunted aliens.

Something I've found to work for me more recently is coming up with a phrase or funny word, and building characters and a world from that. It doesn't have the pressures of fitting into a full-fledged idea, but it serves as the marketable premise of the book. A phrase is like a circle: wide enough to fit an expansive cast and world, but enclosed in a way that limits unnecessary detail.

And, finally, videos. Videos should naturally be centered on people; after all, I, Rachel, am the one who created my channel, and I feature some of my friends and family in it. I might've said this before, but a pretty picture is only a pretty picture; a pretty picture with a person in it is a story, or at least, the basis for one.

Vlogs are just me doing daily things. There's really no thought process behind the content while I'm actually filming it, unless I'm trying to get a specific shot; most of the creativity comes from the editing. But my regular videos (the ones without the episode number in them) have thought behind the actual content I filmed.

For example, in the video below, I asked my friend Megan if I could be her "personal assistant" for the day. It's not something I've seen anyone else on YouTube do, but I came up with it by balancing several factors. 

The first is the entertainment value. Megan is one of the funniest people I know, and I always have a good time whenever I'm around her. I'm sure it would've been funny if I'd just simply hung out with her, but the premise elevated her status as "funny friend" to "funny boss," creating a character for her to embody. She wasn't just Megan; she was MEGAN, and the all caps makes all the difference.

The second is the style. I knew before I filmed this video that I wanted it to be a fast-paced vlog-sketch style thing, so as to keep people watching. I do a lot of jump cuts and stuff, and it might be annoying, but trust me--it's funnier this way.

The third is that I simply wanted to show Megan as I know her. I enjoy spending time with her and thought making the video might be a fun activity to do together. 

This is a video me being a personal assistant. Hope you enjoy!


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