Monday, May 24, 2010

Perk, Perk

My mother still owns an old-style coffee percolator. For a time, I'd wonder if anything was happening. Then, the coffee would perk and show through the glass top. Soon a delicious cup of coffee would be served to our guests.

When an idea captures my attention, I grab it and put it into my mental percolator. Every now and then, I check to see if it's ready. "Hmm, maybe I could write a devotional using this tidbit. How about a short story? Perhaps the idea could be developed into a book."

The idea gets stronger. Perk. As I pound away at the computer, the aroma becomes apparent to everyone in the house. Perk, perk. The story pours out of my printer.

My critique partners, my mother, and eventually an editor sample the finished product. One says, "It's too strong." Another suggests adding cream and sugar. If it passes all the taste tests, it's served to readers.

We've talked about how we snag and retain ideas. Now, let's share a bit on how we process those brainstorms into a written piece. Do you allow them to "percolate" or do you move full steam ahead as soon as you get an idea?

45 comments:

Jan Cline said...

I usually move full steam ahead. I find that in my old age, I forget things/ideas if I dont get right to them. I need to carry a notepad around my neck! There have been times I have let things perk - but not as a rule.
Have a great week!

Carla Gade said...

You are just full of awesome analogies, Susan. I like this one alot! I've often thought of my stories as percolating. Sometimes I just have to run for the paper and sometimes I just daydream and savor the thought process and let it develop in my mind before I even attempt to jot anything down. Sometimes this goes on for days for not much longer so I don't forget the good stuff. But letting these ideas percolate makes a rich aroma and tasteful blend that often helps me get through a block in my story. I'm using that time to muse, "what if..."

Carol J. Alexander said...

Hi Susan! I'm definitely a percolator! I might right down at the same time so as not to forget the perfect wordings, but how I percolate is telling those around me, "Guess what God shared with me this morning?" or "What do you think of this analogy?" or something like that. The more I dialouge it with my husband, my daughter, etc, the more it solidifies in myself.
You have a great week,
Carol

Cindy said...

Lately, ideas seem to hit me all the time. That happens a lot when I'm reading a lot of new books and taking walks (it's been beautiful lately, so I've taken lots of walks :D). I store them away and let them stew and try not to let them get too developed because then I know I'll want to work on them. Once I have more than just a flicker of an idea, I'll make sure to write it down and hold onto it for later.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jan -

LOL! I can relate to the need for a notebook hanging from my neck. Thanks for joining the discussion.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carla -

Thanks. It must be my background in devotional writing coming to the surface. :)

I like the percolating process as well. It's a way to test plotlines before putting them into the computer.

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carol -

There's something about talking out an idea that brings it to life. I love brainstorming with writer friends.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

Wow! Good point. Reading books, blogs, and blog comments sparks ideas in me.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Definitely percolate!

Karen Lange said...

Like the analogy! I usually let things percolate, but once in a while I go full steam ahead. I try and keep a file for those tidbits and ideas as they percolate.
Happy week:)
Karen

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

Me too!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

Thanks. Ah, a combo person. :) Any others out there?

Blessings,
Susan

quietspirit said...

Susan:
I heard a phrase in yesterday's sermon. I grabbed my memo book and jotted it down. Next, I input it in my word processor and this afternoon I transferred it to my PC.

Sherrinda said...

Oh I percolate a bit before I really get down to doing some plotting. It's hard for me to sit and just have ideas pop in my head while trying to put stuff down on paper. :)

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Sometimes, I percolate so long it's overcooked! Although, sometimes I jump the gun. It's a balancing act that I'm still working on. Thanks for the illustration. It's one I will percolate over!
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

Ah, but what do you do after capturing that thought. Do you immediately write a devotional or think about it?

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sherrinda -

I'm in the research stage with one project. I do a lot of my percolating as I'm reading up on my subject.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Susan -

LOL! Sometimes we try to cook too many dishes at once.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Delia Latham said...

I love this analogy, Susan! I am a percolator, without a doubt. Nothing instant ever worked for me... :)

Stephen Tremp said...

What a wonderful memory. Yes, I'm old enough to remember mom and dad's percolator and watching the coffee bubble through the glass top.

I do both. I write stuff down immediately and allow them to percolate. I research and work ideas, let them rest, and re-visit them later.

Stephen Tremp

Jody Hedlund said...

Wonderful illustration, Susan! I think in the pre-planning stage for my novels, my ideas are all percolating. I actually can't start the writing until I'm starting to get a good flavor for the plot or until I really have the taste of my characters.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Great analogy, Susan!

I have to percolate ideas. I also pray over them, so I can brew the flavor others want and need.

Jill Kemerer said...

Oh, I love the analogy of adding cream and sugar to the "too strong" parts. Nice!

Sharon Ball said...

Oh my goodness, my mom has a percolator that still works. :-)

Your analogy of the ideas perking is spot on. I need time to let my ideas take shape in my mind before I can mold them into a storyline. Sometimes the characters are clear to me, but the plot needs work, and sometimes it's just the opposite. But as the idea perks the pieces come together.

Now if I could just sell a manuscript I'd be all set. LOL

Nancy said...

I usually get these when I'm cleaning. I write the idea down. I clean some more. More stuff perks and I write that. Then it happens again. After about four sessions, I have something I can use. I do let it sit for a day or two to catch any more perks that might come.

L. B. Greer said...

Susan,

My blog site is a writer's/devo blog at www.spiritualheartbeats.blogspot.com if you would like to add it to your list of blogs. I don't know how to set it up as an RSS Feed as you have done. Does it go to all your facebook friends or just all your blog followers?

Linda B. Greer

Dr. Linda B. Greer said...

Susan,

Let me know if you like reading some of my archived devotionals at my blog.

Linda Greer

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Delia -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. My stories percolate during the late night hours and into my sleep when my mind is quiet.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Stephen -

Thanks for popping over here and commenting. I post here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I guess I'm dating myself. LOL! My Mom still uses that coffee pot.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

I have a project on the backburner perking away. As I'm doing research, I think of scenes, conversations, and get to know my characters.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

Absolutely. Prayer is that secret ingredient that makes it all come together. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jill -

I'm sure you could expand on that analogy. I give the thumbnail sketch. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sharon -

Oh yes, I hear you! Perhaps I need to focus on the whole pitching, query, one-sheet, proposal stuff.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

Sometimes I think we jump into the writing too fast. Ever taste coffee that's not fully done - blech.

I'll have to try the whole cleaning thing, which I should be doing right now. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Linda -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I'll try to get over to your site a little later. In the meantime, you can contact me at susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com. I'll do whatever I can to help you.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Joy Avery Melville said...

Hi Susan,
Couldn't find your email addy or I'd have thanked you for stopping by my blogsite today...Thankyou very much!
I enjoyed your post about perking...I also want to commend you on your site design. I am a victorian at heart - esp. Antique Tea pots/cups and doilies. I would love to find such a template for my site, but for now have to go free. :D
I appreciate your comments on letting things perk and yet, I am coming back from a 10yr illness and my notebooks keep me sane and IN my seat...:D Will be back regularly.

JoyAveryMelville said...

In reading some of the comments AFTER I commented on the blog, I have to say ditto to Stephen Tremp said from beginning to end.;)
If I only perk I lose the main thing as I go rabbit trailing in my mind. If I don't mull it over and just write exactly what's come to mind, I end up editing, revising and rewriting so many more times...I just have to do both... which is why I consider myself a crossover - since I work better doing it both ways.

Lily Robinson said...

Now, I feel old! I've used a percolator many times. They're great hanging over a campfire!

No, I'm full steam ahead, but as I write, the ideas keep forming. I just follow them. So maybe I perk?

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lily -

I go off on too many rabbit trails if I move full-steam ahead. Sometimes it takes awhile to sort things out, but often I only need a day or two.

Blessings,
Susan :)

jean Fischer said...

I love the percolater analogy! I can almost smell the coffee brewing. I like to let my ideas rest. I tuck them away, and if they keep popping up I use them. Sometimes, more often, they wait until God whispers in my ear that the time is right. Then I go full steam ahead.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

Timing is a big factor. An author friend said she received over 40 rejections. The market couldn't handle the topic she wrote about when she first submitted. It was finally published.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sandra Heska King said...

I love the sound of and watching a pot perk. I think I still have one that we used for camping--for emergency use. ;)

Some things take longer to brew. Others can be served up quick--like iced coffee.

Becky Lange said...

I like the analogy! Generally, I like to let things perk by tapping it out, then saving and letting it be for a while (usually a LONG while). Then one day I'll browse through my saved works and pick one out and take a look at it, and delete or add, cut and paste, and fuss with it here and there. If I like it well enough, it will land on my blog.
At other times I will run with a thought and post it right away - although even then it's not exempt from later editing!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sandra -

Another good point. Some ideas come to maturity a lot faster than others.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Becky -

I usually have a list of ideas I've gathered for the blog. Sometimes I'll think it's going in one direction, and it takes a detour when I'm writing. The process is almost as fascinating as the subject. :)

Blessings,
Susan