I is for Incubate

   Posted by: Faith   in Creating Coldcuts

How long do you let ideas incubate in your mind before actually attempting to write them down?

infant-incubatorSometimes I get a story idea and keep it to myself for awhile, letting the concept simmer. If things start to take shape, I’ll write it down in an idea journal (or, let’s be honest, whatever random scrap of paper happens to be around at the time).

Then, it’s incubation time. You know those ideas—the ones you’re sure you’re not ready to write yet, that need more time for development.

It may take a week, or a month, or several years before I’m ready to write it—not counting those stories that demand to be told immediately. But those are far and few between.

I think it’s a good idea to let concepts take a bit more shape before putting things down on paper… it’s akin to mental outlining, ensuring we don’t move into the story too quickly, before we really know what we want it to be about.

That said, the idea baby has to come out of the incubator eventually! Even if we’re not quite sure we’re ready for it… because, in all honesty, who ever is?

And don’t worry, you’re not alone in this. Author Neil Gaiman blogged his experience in getting ready to write his now award-winning story, The Graveyard Book:



Worth waiting for…


In 1985 or 1986, watching my son Mike wheel his tricycle around the graveyard next door to our house that we used because we didn’t have a garden, I thought of an idea for a story about a small boy who wandered into a graveyard and was raised by dead people.

Then, deciding I wasn’t a good enough writer, I didn’t write it.

graveyard bookOver the years I’d pick up a scrap of paper and try to write a scene from near the beginning, conclude I wasn’t good enough yet, and put it aside.

Recently I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t getting any better. So I wrote a short story called "The Witch’s Headstone", which will probably be chapter 4 or 5 of the book.

And today I finished writing Chapter One of The Graveyard Book, and it’s a real book. I know it’s a real book because there are all sorts of things I don’t quite know yet, and I can’t wait to find them out.


It’s okay to let our ideas incubate! But we have to let them out eventually…

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 at 2:58 pm and is filed under Creating Coldcuts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


Mine probably incubate too long! Until they’re fossilized. lol

April 12th, 2012 at 1:55 am

Jessica — Haha! I know that feeling.

April 13th, 2012 at 11:49 am

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