Hit Me With a Galaxy

My personal revelation to culling and sorting my creative ideas

By Liz Betz

For years and years; possibly ten, one of my stand-by writing activities was the collecting of resources. One project was to fill a whole scribbler with titles that caught my attention. I had five binders (big fat two-inchers!) of printed pages from online sources and the writer books, filled three bookshelves all by themselves. Another bookcase housed the non-fiction resource book overflow.
Being firm with myself helped me recognize that the cornucopia of so many choices had not served my writing. In truth, I had written many stories without using my resource collection, and yet I still I believed that I might find it useful, someday.
The ‘someday’ eventually loomed and I began looking through the collection for inspiration. These things had interested me enough that I’d saved them. I knew it wouldn’t be quick to know if there was information that I wanted to write about. (My name for this process is ‘reverse research’ where my reading stirs the generation of stories.) But as I sorted, I eventually understood my collection was a hoard of sorts and more a burden than an inspiration. There was a procrastination aspect to being ‘overwhelmed’ with choices involved.
The answer? Cull it. And so, I did, with pauses, where I would write from the ‘good stuff.’ The binders eventually were culled to one, then none. Admittedly this wasn’t always easy but I felt freer as each potential project was lifted from my world. Very many of my books have been released; perhaps they will inspire another creative soul. The scribbler with all the titles is now a document on my computer with 45 titles that are now 43 because one title inspired a story and I used one for this essay (there are as many ideas for story as stars in a galaxy).
It took several months every winter and at least three cold seasons passed before I brought this collection under control. Now I say that I used to be a hoarder of ideas but my fantasy proved to be far-fetched that I would ever open one of my resource books and have a story pour out. Writing takes work and everyone’s process is unique.
Mine is based on trust that I will be inspired and no collection is really necessary.

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