The Power of Arm Hair

Now hear me out.

I’ve been studying where ideas come from and had come to a rather anticlimactic conclusion. If my calculations were correct, ideas could come from anywhere and everywhere, as well as at any possible time. Now how’s a person supposed to track that kind of data?

And as most great discoveries go, it was the journey to this useless answer that led me to something even greater. Allow me to explain.

I needed a sound way to know when I got a good idea. Specifically a good idea for a story (though I’m sure it could apply in other areas). So taking great lengths to actually notice when one came around, I was quite pleased to notice such a simple indicator.

arm hairThe hairs on my arm stood up.

Like any good scientist, I replicated the experiment. And sure enough, the next good idea that came along was accompanied by some arm hair-raising action. Again and again, regardless of where I was or what I was doing, if a good idea came along, the hairs on my arm would stand up.

So even if I wasn’t able to accurately point to where my ideas were coming from, I did find a way to be sure if the idea was a good one. Now checking the hair on my arms is part of the writing process for me.

Let me be clear. Good writing is all about craft. You have to practice it. You have to nurture it. You have to strap it to the chair and force it to grow. Without it, no amount of good ideas will make your work good.

But learn to recognize good ideas, and couple them with good craft? Then your stories will be great.

Or so the raising hair on my arm tells me.

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