Why you should get rid of your "idea bank"

(and what you should build instead)

No one was looking.

I glanced around one last time and then, before someone could appear from around a corner, I reached my right hand out and did it:

I ran a finger down the bridge of Laurence Olivier’s nose.

(not the actual Olivier, of course—a bust at the National Gallery in London)

It was the year 2000, and I’d been a fan of British actors for years. I’d seen Olivier’s Rebecca and Sleuth, The Prince and the Showgirl and Marathon Man.

I’d taken college classes with the memorable Dr. Charles Hadley, who lived with Olivier and Vivienne Leigh in the 1950’s while working as a voice coach.

Looking at a face I’d seen so much onscreen, I had to touch it.

Now, I’m not a rule-breaker.

You’re probably not either.

But I have been known to go deep on odd topics, and I think the most intriguing creative people tend toward niche obsessions.

And to stick with writing don’t you need to be a bit obsessive, really? To chase what pulls you, and write about that? Kieran Drew calls this the fascination filter.

I just like to call it wonder.

I’m nixing the term “idea bank.”

For two reasons:

  1. I learned in Dr. Hadley’s phonetics class back in ‘99 that the most unattractive vowel sound in English is the “a” in words like bank, cabbage, and Wham!.

  2. It just sounds so sterile. Like it’s a transactional place where you make creative deposits and withdrawals, where your ideas shoot out to you impersonally through a pneumatic tube.

Me? I’m going with Wonder File. 

Because a Wonder File fuels your fascination filter (ok, I’ll stop now).

Watched the Wham! documentary on Netflix this week. Fun nostalgia.

Sometimes you see a picture or scene that’s wonder, made real. 

Besides humor, what else connects us so easily, across all kinds of difference? (2 min read)

Even in the most everyday things:

Steven Spielberg has a secret ingredient. He’s not the only director you could say that about, but he’s the only big name who lets it lead him so profoundly. Reminds me I need to watch “The Fablemans,” finally. (8 min watch)

Sometimes following wonder gets you all wet. But the trip’s worth it—just pop up. Shake it off. (10 sec watch)

What do we feel when we see someone seeing things in a completely new way? (hint: it starts with a “w”) (picture gallery)

I’d love to hear about you and your Wonder File! Which tools do you love, or are you learning or curious about?

What can you change to make your old idea bank more inspiring for your writing practice?

🧠 and ❤️