Technically, I could have written six novels by now, and be working for Microsoft…


In my head, I write all the time. In my mind there is an endless sprawl of potentially award-winning stuff. In my head I am constantly narrating my own life. All day, every day. And I don’t do it consciously, my brain does it automatically, and it works a thousand times quicker than I do, and it’s a thousand times more intelligent, and a thousand times more witty. Sadly, this is a side of me you’ll never see.

Every so often, when I’m wandering around, letting my subconscious narrate my life, it will reel off the odd paragraph or two of really great stuff and I’ll think; “Wow, that’s a really accurate/witty portrayal of my own life. I can’t believe I just thought of that – well done me!”  and then I tell myself that I should probably write it down before I forget it and then my subconscious hides away taking said paragraph of literary genius with it.

Last week I wrote about something that wasn’t the idea I had for my blog post, but about the fact I *had* an idea for a blog post and had since forgotten it. This is a problem that I  meet time and time again. And i doesn’t stop at blog posts; I’ve had so many ideas for my novel, for short stories, Oscar-winning screenplays, that have just slipped into the ether because my subconscious is a cheat and my brain is too feckless to retain them long enough for me to write them down.

Whenever I attempt to write a random idea down, as soon as pen hits the paper the it rapidly begins to dissolve. With each stroke of the pen, more of it falls away, and no matter what, I don’t ever get the essence of what my subconscious had churned out. And the harder I try to remember it, the worse it gets until all I’m left with is some ramshackle half-wit of an idea that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

It’s a bit like trying to carry a sandcastle from one end of a beach to another and expecting it to still be in perfect condition when you get there. I speak from experience – it totally doesn’t work. For one thing, the second you attempt to pick up a sandcastle it crumbles into its former constructed state of, well, sand. So instead, you carry the piles of sand to the other side of the beach with the aim to reconstruct it exactly as it was. But let’s face it, you’re never going to pick up all the sand you used to build the first sandcastle, and you’ll lose some of it in transit, and it begins to dry out so when you reach the other side of the beach and build your new sandcastle, it’s all wonky and crooked; not a patch on the awesome sandy piece of architecture you constructed mere moments ago.

And I know what you’re thinking; why would anyone dismantle a sandcastle and attempt to carry it from one end of a beach to another?

While I understand that’s a very valid question, it totally destroys my metaphor about ideas, so how about you just keep it to yourself, okay?

Anyway, if you’re having trouble following this sandcastle metaphor, then I’ve gone to the trouble of creating this diagram for you instead. You’re welcome.

How the creative mind works

So, the bottom line is; ideas are a lot like sandcastles.

Anyway, knowing that the likely outcome of me attempting to write an idea down will result in me building a rubbish-looking sandcastle writing something down that isn’t vaguely akin to the witty, edgy stuff that my subconscious created, I don’t bother to write it down.

Knowing I’ve got a brilliant idea in me, somewhere, and knowing I am completely incapable of writing it down I frequently find myself wishing I could plug my brain into a USB port on my PC and upload thoughts onto my hard-drive. Then I’d run some kind of amazing software which would transcribe my thoughts directly into an MS Word document.

This would really save me a lot of time and trouble in the creative process – I would have an entire library of ideas to work from. I could have written six novels by now. Maybe more. Maybe seven novels.

Plus, if I could invent such amazing software, I’d be working for Micro$oft and earning millions. And I wouldn’t even have to worry about writing novels and blog posts and things. You’re welcome, Bill Gates. You can totally have my idea for freesies, because you’re geeky and know all the stuff I don’t, preventing me from ever developing this idea further because I don’t even know where to start when it comes to connecting the brain by USB to your PC. And there’s always the worry I’m not compatible with Windows 7 [You’d probably have to run your brain on a DOS emulator – Geeky Reader].

To conclude: if clever technological folk stopped arsing around developing cloud computing to enable morons to edit pictures of their stupid ugly families into pictures of of their stupid, slightly less ugly families, and used my idea to create amazing subconscious transcribing software and brain to PC USB cables, then I would have written six or seven novels by now. And/or be earning loads by working for Micro$oft.

Further proof that my writing career has been sabotaged by the lack of technological progression.

PS. Subconscious transcribing software and brain to PC USB cables do not exist. I already checked on Amazon.


Comments: 17

  1. alonewithcats January 14, 2011 at 12:44 am Reply

    You really need to switch your allegiance to Steve Jobs and Apple. I'm sure there's some sort of app that builds, dismantles and re-creates sandcastles on beaches while playing Joni Mitchell songs while also syncing your calendar and contacts and automatically calling your grandparents and faking your voice so it sounds like you care and thus you stay in their will.

    OK, just checked the App Store. There *is* an app called Sandcastles that "displays a slideshow of the most stunning and photogenic hand-sculpted works of sand art by leading photographers …" Which means I'm at least half right.

  2. Rik January 14, 2011 at 1:11 am Reply

    Are you a PC or a Mac? Bear in mind that a Mac is Jez from Peep Show – taking drugs and generally being a wanker. If you're a PC, you're kind of broken and inadequate – but at least no-one hates you. Brooker knows the score:

  3. Steven Chapman January 14, 2011 at 10:16 am Reply

    DOS emulator *geeky snort* and Bill Gates references…
    All you need now is a Monkey Island reference to complete the uber blog post of wonderwoo!

    "A rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle?…What possible use could that have?"

  4. Rik January 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm Reply

    Hmm, twelve hours ago was….half one in the morning. That should explain the hysterical tone and potty mouth.

  5. kyknoord January 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm Reply

    I think I know what the problem is: too many steps. Try this:
    Idea –> ??? –> Profit!

  6. Simone January 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm Reply

    carry a tape recorder (seriously). i'm sure you've experienced ideas needing time to germinate. they come back even stronger. i liken the writing process to fishing with a giant net – sometimes we pull up a tire, an old boot or a tin can – but if we keep casting the net we eventually get a bigass fish. also, you forgot the last arrow… fail –> opportunity to do it differently.

  7. Jojiebean January 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm Reply

    You've attempted this with me once before, I'm sure, but just to reiterate (in case we've never had this discussion) I can't ever turn to the dark side and get a Mac, or any kind of Apple product. Even if Apple have the capacity to some how create the appropriate technology to hook up to my brain.

    I don't trust Macs. If I did do a brain to Mac hook up, I'd be scared that it would try to destroy me in an attempt to make me a cooler, hipper person who infuriatingly said "yeah??" at the end of each sentence.

    Bottom line, don't trust Macs. Except Big Macs. Even with all their questionable meat product bashed into a burger shape – I'd trust a Big Mac over an Apple Mac any day.

    PS. You were definitely half right. I hope you download this app, and use it to think of me.

  8. Jojiebean January 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm Reply

    That's enough Champ. Maybe you should sit the next one out…

  9. Jojiebean January 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm Reply

    I was right! I knew you were going to fit in around here…

    PS "That's the second biggest monkey head I've ever seen!"

  10. Jojiebean January 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm Reply

    You're right. Dammit. As ever, I'm over-complicating things…. Dir…

  11. Jojiebean January 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm Reply

    I have thought about getting a tape recorder once before, my only fear being that I will turn into some sort of pretentious uber-monster and start bellowing into it to it, at will, for attention. It could be disasterous.

    That said, I'll probably get a tape recorder anyway – and use it to pretend I'm in Star Trek or something…

  12. Rik January 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm Reply

    Perhaps I'd better stop talking for a while, sit the next couple of plays out.

  13. Steven Chapman January 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm Reply

    I’m a mighty pirate! Of course I'll fit in!

  14. Jojiebean January 18, 2011 at 9:36 am Reply

    How appropriate, you fight like a cow ;)

  15. Jojiebean January 18, 2011 at 9:38 am Reply

    Weird – I totally replied to this comment a few days ago. Sorry Simone. Hmm what did I say? Something like I'm scared of getting a tape recorder because I'll probably use it to pretend I'm on Star Trek rather than recording spontaneous ideas. Or I'll record myself singing while drunk. Or I'll record myself breaking wind so I can play it back to myself later and laugh.

    I'm such an oaf.

  16. Steven Chapman January 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm Reply

    And here's me thinking MI fans were fictional!!

  17. Suniverse January 26, 2011 at 7:09 pm Reply

    O.k., I got beaten to the Apple idea, but I think maybe you should get with Google. Because they are fast taking over every part of computing AND there's an office nearby, so I can work there AND fly out to England to work with you AND we would be well on our way to our dream of being suburban neighbors.

    Also, I've tried recording myself, as Simone suggested, but I hate the sound of my voice. Notebooks end up filled with scrawling half-sentences, because who wants to be the self-important twit who says, "Oh, excuse me, I have to detail my plot points," while waiting in line at the bank.

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