Corral De La Cruz Theatre

What’s in an Idea?

Dear Creators,

When I first started writing, I would note down every idea. I kept a list in the Notes app on my phone. Most of the ideas lost their resonance somewhere between their conception and the first draft. Many, many died somewhere around page sixty.

As a creator, ideas come a dime a dozen. But what makes an idea worth pursuing? How do you know if the idea will have staying power? For me, the answer came in a YouTube video by The National Theatre (linked below).

At the one minute forty-seven mark, Simon Stephens, a British playwright famous for the stage-adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, talks about his process. He mentions Peter Brook and the idea of the ‘formless hunch.’ The ‘formless hunch’ is the inkling of a story. Simon Stephens suggests you never write that story. It hasn’t proved itself fit for development. A story idea that is fit for development will sit with you for “six to nine months” naturally. You don’t need to put a note in your phone. You don’t need to force yourself to outline it. You let it sit. Then, when the time is right, it will return to you.

This process resonated with me when I first heard it. As a young writer, I embarked on every idea I had. Ninety percent of those ideas died. Why? Because I had thought them up on a whim and they died on a whim. Now, I let my ideas rest. Out of one hundred ideas, I’d say five to seven of them stick with me. They stick with me through multiple projects, sometimes even years of work. When I can finally get to them, I write them. The process is even more enjoyable because of how long they’ve been with me.

Before you put your ideas to the page, allow them to age, and like a great cheese, the time will reward you.

Yours Truly,

Ty Hawton

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