Thousand Yard Stare

Working in the outside office today. One novel delivered to the editor a week or so back, a big one for me, but as usual not contractually allowed to talk about it yet. There’s a little red dot permanently dancing on my chest, just in case I forget.

About 20k words into another novel and I have a TV script to write. Keeping busy.

No idea what the world’s going to be like when we come out of this. For sure it won’t be the same. A lot of shops, bars, restaurants and other businesses won’t reopen. Bookshops? How are publishers going to adapt?

There’s a hunger for film but maybe won’t be many cinemas to see them in. Studios can’t make as much off streaming so budgets will have to fall.

Several national newspapers on the brink of closing because of the collapse in advertising.

We’re all watching a stack of TV but quite how they’re going to go about making new drama, not even the broadcasters are sure. Green screen? Expensive.

What’s up next?

Writing In The Time of Plague

Back to the writing mill after four days off over Easter. On my virtual desk, I have two novels to complete, and two TV projects.

Work hasn’t changed much here during the lockdown. It’s still me in front of a screen, roaming around the inside of my head.

But work isn’t just the productive part. My well of inspiration was always fed by getting out into the world, to the pubs and bars, to cafes and restaurants, lounging on the common, seeing life, seeing stories unfold around me.

That’s all changed.

Social media has really come into its own in the last few weeks. It’s no substitute, but I’ve found it a lifeline for keeping up with friends and work colleagues. Isolation isn’t good for the soul. We’ll always find ways to connect.

(You can find me on Insta and Twitter, both @Chadbourn.)

Ideas And How To Get Them – A Hack


Good ideas are a writer’s currency.  But they can be hard to come by in a torrent of deadlines and life stresses.  Here I’ll tell you a simple hack that will get them when you need them.

I say ‘writer’s currency’ but good ideas are key to anybody who makes a living out of what’s inside their head – that can be music, art, games design, running a business, science and tech development, and more.  These people are the future.

Why?  Because within five to ten years nearly 50% of jobs are going to disappear as a result of the widespread disruption caused by technological advances.  Most of those will be jobs where you turn up, get told what to do, and get paid.

The ones that will survive and thrive are the ones where ideation is at their core – the creation of new ideas, because, for the near-future, tech just isn’t very good at coming up with new ideas.  So if you want to future-proof your life, as much as possible, or the lives of your kids, start finding a way to put your ideas at the heart of your earning.  You’ll probably be significantly happier too.

As an aside, I wanted to share an observation from talking to TV producers and book editors.  When anyone has an idea for a new work, they think it’s great, unique, because it’s surfaced for the first time in their head, often in a roundabout fashion, and no one else could possibly have had it.  Then they get annoyed when outsiders aren’t impressed.  Some get very angry indeed, and start raging about ‘gatekeepers’, and a conspiracy to keep them out of the marketplace.  Don’t know why this conspiracy would ever exist.  It’s often not best to start delving into other people’s psychology.

The truth is, your idea is probably not unique, no matter how it *feels*.  It may not even be any good.

And usually, despite the no doubt excellent quality of the writing, it is nearly always about the idea.

The people who commission books and TV shows and films stand under a torrent of submitted works, sometimes hundreds a week, all of which are presumed to be unique by their creators.  They’ve probably seen your great, novel idea five times that week alone, because – simply – we’re all swimming in the same cultural ocean and we soak up the same influences that cause ideas to grow.

Here’s the thing.  If you’re ‘thinking’ about an idea, it’s probably not going to be unique.  That’s because any idea of any value comes from the unconscious mind, that dark, shadowy place at the back of your head that you’re never allowed into.  It filters, makes connections, shapes, develops, and produces something that is unique to you – the sum total of everything you are.

This is why you often have your best ideas when you’re in the shower, or exercising, or immersed in a film, when the conscious mind has slipped into low-level mode and the unconscious gets to shout just loud enough to be heard.

All the successful creative/business/scientific/techie people you see have found some way to access that fantastic store of ideas.  I have a few myself.

But here’s that one particular hack.  Before you go to sleep, perhaps for a few hours before, get your mind running on whatever you want to work on.  Set your alarm to wake you in your deep sleep cycle, say around four hours later.  You’ll have your solution, and probably four or five other workable ideas too, all bubbling up out of the unconscious stew.

Some you can quite happily toss out.  But others may well be life-changing.

Alan Moore And The Art Of Magic…And Writing

Image courtesy of Joe Brown
Image courtesy of Joe Brown

A few wise words…many wise words…from Alan Moore on imagination, creativity, writing, and magic. He’s long been an inspiration, and I’m very much looking forward to his novel Jerusalem.

“As previously stated, it is my position that art, language, consciousness and magic are all aspects of the same phenomenon. With art and magic seen as almost wholly interchangeable, the realm of the imagination becomes crucial to both practices.”

And this:

“The Bardic tradition of magic, when satires were justifiably more feared than curses and when the creator was respected as a powerful magician rather than as someone getting by out on the fringes of the entertainment industry, is one that today’s artists, occultists and writers would do well to reacquaint themselves with. You can kill or cure with a word. Get off of your knees.”

Everything is here.


Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Here’s an excellent short lecture by Sir Ken Robinson (and very funny too – he’s a natural stand-up).

“The school system came into being to meet the needs of industrialisation… You were probably steered away from things you liked doing as a kid on the grounds that you would never get a job doing it. Don’t do music – you won’t be a musician. Don’t do art – you won’t be an artist. Benign advice. Now, profoundly mistaken.”