The Menagerie of Bad Ideas


The mind is like a zoo.

A panoply of animals separated by a profusion of cages. Noisy kids running here and there. Somebody’s vomit there, just right there, next to a trashcan. (How they managed to get so close and miss the trashcan will forever baffle.) A series of footpaths connecting the lot. Maybe a little train to let you take it all in while you kick back and relax.

Our brains compartmentalize just like a zoo. Can’t have the dark thoughts of your latest antagonist kicking around your head while you’re pushing your little ones on the swings. Can’t have lions sharing the cage with the cockatiels. (Is that how you spell cockatiel?) Rather, you keep it all separate. Go visit the dark part of your brain when you need the antagonist. Stick to the flamingo exhibits when you’re with the kids. And so on.

Confined, Monkey, Cage, Animal, Prison, Captivity

But zoos aren’t perfect. Neither are caretakers or cages. Look at the octopus that just recently escaped to the ocean, or at any number of stories of people falling into wild animal enclosures and being mauled (or rescued!) by the inhabitants. Every once in a while, the externally-imposed order breaks down, and things get messy.

And in a zoo, that’s maybe not such a good thing. But in the mind, that’s a necessity.

If you’re like me, you’ve got maybe a dozen different story ideas swirling around in your head at any given time. And those ideas are in their cages, sure, but you can’t help noticing them as your consciousness strolls by. They rattle the bars. They chew on the locks. And occasionally, they break out. Cross-pollinate. Pollute each other.

And for the writer, that’s a very good thing.

The sci-fi idea that you had might just be awesome with a bit of that romantic comedy thrown in. The alternate-history period piece could crackle to life with a dash of the thriller you thought of last week over a plate of meatballs.

Or maybe those ideas will breed and collapse from genetic deformity.

That’s okay, too. Ideas are as numerous as grains of sand, if we’re only open to seeing them.

We can’t keep our ideas in their cages.

We’ve got to let them out once in a while.

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.

6 thoughts on “The Menagerie of Bad Ideas

  1. Yep, I take any and all ideas into consideration when I’m writing a story and have managed to fit mystery, thriller, sci-fi, time travel and a bit of humour into one that was inspired by some bloke posting a prompt that was just “Stuff”……

    ….oh, wait, that was you.

    Thanks for that, now I’ve started, I can’t stop, hahaha.

    Liked by 2 people

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