Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Secret of the Second Idea

Imagine that you have come up with the best idea ever. It might be a plot for a novel or the perfect way to describe your character. It just comes whizzing out of nowhere and lodges itself in your brain. You think no idea could ever be better. You might do a little 'I've got a new idea' dance or just feel smug for a while.

But I usually find that this isn't actually the best idea that I am going to have. It's usually just the most obvious idea. It might be a cliche or something I've heard somewhere before. The very best idea comes later. It might take some pondering but the second idea always comes and it's always so much better than the first. I think it's strength comes from not being the most obvious. It's usually more original and has more of me in it.

You might find that for you it's the third or fourth or twenty-eighth idea that is the best but for me the second idea is always the one to watch out for.


  1. Interesting. I guess I have never thought of them in that way. I get an idea and then add to it - usually in daydreams (perhaps this is the third or fourth or twenty-eighth idea!). Once it has enough padding I may whoosh it onto a page, or I will release it to waddle off somewhere else if it doesn't grab me anymore. Oh dear, now I feel a bit sorry for all those padded little orphaned ideas.

  2. I find this to be certainly true when I draft a letter/email/post and then face a computer glitch that wipes it all out for whatever reason. I often feel the original was brilliant but when forced to re-craft it, the second draft is generally more concise, more eloquently communicated. It's that first idea or draft that dislodges the rest of the ideas. It's like the first drops of ketchup...once they come, the rest follows freely.

  3. Jayne - Yes, ideas do build up for me too. I mull them over and connect them together. I do quite a bit of daydreaming too.

    Shana - Definitely. That is so frustrating when you lose your first draft. I love the ketchup analogy!

  4. Great ideas in your blog- whether they're first, second or third. I also like the pictures. Thanks for sharing!