Inspiration strikes me at the oddest times. Many writers have rituals to help them write and brainstorm new ideas. Ernest Hemmingway, for instance, enjoyed a drink or four to get inspired. I never had these rituals. It felt too constraining to have a single hub where I’d dream up all my stories. This particular idea, though, did come to me at a peculiar time: on the toilet.
This impromptu brainstorm session began pretty typically. Most of my ideas at the start were shit. I must have come with five or six stinkers. Then, out of nowhere, a golden nugget popped into my head. This was amazing! I beat writer’s block! I was so excited, I even whispered to myself:
This idea had everything I look for in a story – it was emotional, original and bankable for producers. All writers know that ecstatic feeling when you come up with the perfect idea. It’s like winning the lottery, but way less likely to happen. This is how I felt. I was over the moon.
“All writers know that ecstatic feeling when you come up with the perfect idea. It’s like winning the lottery, but way less likely to happen. This is how I felt. I was over the moon.”
Let me breakdown this story for you. We follow a young man, mid 20s, who works as a plumber at some Ivy League school. He lives in a bad neighbourhood and his friends are a terrible influence on him. They all drink, hit on girls, get in fights and commit petty crime (you know, the redeemable kind). During one of his late-night shifts at work he notices an impossible math question on a chalk board. You assume he is going to ignore it and continue cleaning, but to the shock of the audience the plumber actually solves it. He just disproved all our preconceived expectations; he is actually a genius!
I stopped after finishing that sentence. Something felt off in my synopsis. Then a horrible feeling rushed through my body like bad chinese food. I realized my mistake. My original idea would have been perfect…in 1996. I just pitched Good Will Hunting.
This is not the first time I’ve brainstormed an unoriginal, original idea. It’s one of the core problems I’ve encountered while writing scripts. Storytelling has been around for a millennia, meaning countless stories have already have been told. The challenge is to discover an idea that’s original to you. Or you could invent a time machine, whatever is easier.
Until next time, Mr.Struggle