Tag Archives: advice

Gone Fishin’: How to Catch Big Ideas in Deep Water

English: David Lynch, photographed on 10 Augus...
David Lynch, doing his signature spirit finger motion when discussing ideas floating around,photographed on 10 August 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like quotes. I have spent many hours copying and pasting quotes from artists I admire into my Evernote app for further handheld inspiration. Recently I’ve been diving head first into the work of filmmaker David Lynch. I seem to find I have some things in common with Lynch, at least I perceive so. Specifically, I hold a great deal of admiration for his imagination and his idea generating process. In many interviews, Lynch refers to ideas as fish and his extended conscious-mind as a pond where these idea-fish are swimming around, waiting to be caught. Lynch says:

“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”


I’m not embarrassed at all to say that quotes like this send me gushing like a teenage girl at a rock concert, (or a Justin Bieber/Taylor Swift festival. Is that what teen girls gush over now?)

Lynch’s rationale that we all have great ideas swimming around in our subconscious, waiting to be found and explored, is enlightening and liberating. He admits to not knowing the best way or even if there is a way of locating these ideas and bringing them to the surface. They just kind of come, sometimes when you least expect it, and you have to be ready for them. A forgotten idea can drive an artist mad, so keep your pen and paper (or trusty Evernote app) handy.

This journey into the “deep water” of one’s soul is not necessarily a Lynch original. I can recall a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald, “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” I love that quote. Writers must pain themselves and even torture their souls in order to squeeze the pulpy prose from their juicy brains. Good writing is about feeling something on a very deep level and having the courage to push forward, through the emotion and onto the page.

Even before reading this Fitzgerald quote, my first encounter with the term “deep water” came in a creative writing class where I met my current hero and greatest teacher, poet Christopher Bursk. Chris, whom would be agitated to be referred to by his last name in this post or in the classroom, spoke regularly about the importance of paddling out into deep water in order to write beautifully. Our assignments were often exercises in swimming in deep water; write a poem about something you regret, write about a person you would benefit from being dead, or the self-indulging, soul scrutinizing personal “Song of Myself” that we’d have to write and share in front of the class.

The greatest advice from Chris on writing about deep water was a story he’d tell us about taking his son to swimming lessons. The swimming instructor said the best technique for swimming out of deep waters and to the shore was the dead man’s float; where you put your head under and trust the water to keep you afloat as you paddle forward.

This is of course true for writing. Much like Fitzgerald’s quote, sometimes you have to trust that the pain or longing of the deep water will keep you afloat and just start paddling, start putting the words on the page, and eventually you’ll make it ashore.

These quotes and this advice have helped me channel emotions into some of my best writing. It’s a constant struggle though but I’m content with battling every day. It’s a compulsion to want to strike out every day in hopes of getting that good idea, catching that big fish.

I was thinking of myself, Lynch’s quote, and came up with an analogy. If you’re ever uncertain of why you can’t come up with a good idea, look at the process as you would look at fishing. When you go out fishing, they don’t always bite. Fishing is all about patience. Staring at your rod or checking your hook constantly won’t make the fish come any quicker. Sometimes you just have to lie back and let your thoughts drift when all the sudden you see your line bob and you scurry to your pole, your pen and paper, and start reeling the fish in.

Some people are better at coming up with ideas than others, just like there are master fisherman in the world. In this regard, I think I’d say I’m a talented idea fisherman. I get ideas, sometimes several ideas, every day and I try to be a work horse in order to get them all into a project, down on paper. For the analogy’s sake, I’m good at getting fish to take the bait. But I will say that I have trouble catching the big fish. I’m young and still learning to explore myself and be honest with my emotions.

If I do manage to hook a big fish, a great idea, I often find I have trouble reeling it in and getting it onto the boat. Or worse, sometimes when I do get these big fish onto the boat, adapted into a story or script concept, my ship sinks before I land safely ashore. Sometimes my emotional state implodes unexpectedly and my ship, my safety, submerges with all the ideas and ambition onboard.

So what’s left when I hit the water, away from the safety of the vessel? Usually I panic and suck in a lot of water. But then I remember the wisdom of my heroes, I put my head under the current and start paddling towards land. And sometimes I’ll find I’ve carried one of those big fish along with me as I step onto the sand.

My First Blog Post from My Smart Phone: An Attempt to Learn How to Blog Daily

This is a blog post written and posted from my iPhone. I’m aware that this is not major news to many bloggers who probably blog on the go all the time but this is nerve wracking territory for me.

I always post from my computer. I make a word document first and proofread and all that good stuff before posting. I’m just waiting to see how many spelling errors and autocorrect fails there will be when I’m done.

Moving on, I’m taking this minuscule step out of my comfort zone because I’m trying to figure out how the hell people can blog on a daily basis without being paid to do so.

I’m an aspiring writer. I write every day in order to get better. I write different types of things though. Not always blogs. In a good month, I’m lucky to have maybe 4-5 blog posts. One or two a week is great.

But I’ve been told before that in order to have a successful blog (whatever that means) and increase traffic then you really need to blog every day. How is it possible for someone with a full time job, going to school, being an avid party animal and good time enthusiast to post a new, entertaining blog every day?

Truthfully, it’s probably not so complicated. I really should learn to trim down my thoughts and post shorter blogs. Keep my topics precise and my thoughts clearly simple.

I’d like to ask my fellow bloggers what they think. How do you maintain a rigorous blogging regime? Do you post on the go? Do you worry that what you’re posting isn’t all that meaningful or “worth” the Internet space it takes up?

Help this nervous, recreational blogger form a steady habit of daily blog injections.

Semester’s Over! What Now?

Winter break is college’s Christmas (Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus, etc) present to the student. Students fall into debt to pay tuition, they lose sleep to complete papers, and they sacrifice social lives to stay focused on their classes. Being almost three weeks into December, students are collectively rejoicing in the glorious gap between Fall and Spring Semester. But with students returning home and having a drastically less convoluted work schedule, they may be wondering what to do with all this free time. (Free time? What’s that? I haven’t had that in a long time. Sounds weird.)

It’s important to stay productive over the break so that when it comes to a close, you’re not left wondering where all the time went. Here are a few ideas to make your break worthwhile:

1. Recuperate

You’ve worked hard all semester. Now it’s time to relax and catch up on rest. And by the end of the semester, after pulling all nighters to finish papers and cram for finals, sleep is probably at the top of your list. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself by sleeping late into the day now that your break is here. For the first week, you might want to hibernate. Your brain is fried and it’s time to let it simmer down, back to normalcy. In addition, college students tend to eat horribly and sacrifice nutrition for convenience. It’s time to eat hearty and healthy. If you’re returning home from being away at college, take this opportunity to load up on home cooked meals. You know, that edible stuff that’s not heated on hot plates or nuked to soggy deliciousness. Ramen noodles have a way of losing their appeal after having them every single day. In no time, you’ll be fully restored.

2. Revitalize

Now that you’ve been sleeping all day and only waking up to stuff your face with delicious food, let’s talk about your physical health. Most people look a little less in-shape when they return from school then when they left. All those late night McDonald’s runs and keg stands might have taken a toll on you. It’s that freshman-fifteen, or twenty, or thirty, or whatever. The point is, don’t be lazy over the break! You don’t have the excuse of not having enough time to exercise anymore. With the extra free time, utilize it well and strengthen your physical health. Hit the gym, take jogs around your hometown, bench press your little brother, or all of the above. Make it a personal goal to go back to school looking better than you did last semester. You’ll feel good that you did.

3. Reconnect

Social lives tend to suffer when in school. I’m sure you may have been hitting parties at school and are probably thinking, “my social life isn’t suffering. I’m the King of the Beer Pong Table!” Well, good for you, bud. Have fun riding that accomplishment for a few years. Truth is, your relationships with friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, and families are probably suffering from neglect due to lack of time to fully embrace those people. It’s not really your fault. You’re not a bad person. Maybe you went away to school and have been too far away to see your loved ones. Or maybe you just really haven’t had the time to dedicate to every single person you care about. That’s not an excuse anymore. Take this time to regroup with your friends to keep the relationships strong. If you’re dating someone, it’s time to do something romantic. Romance suffers during the school year. Guys, break out the boom box and jean jacket and go hang out on her front lawn. Ladies, do anything remotely sexual. He’ll eat it up. Friends are a little easier to connect with and don’t require as much thought. Go grab a drink with your high school buddies. Reunite in the woods with the old neighborhood gang and run from cops, (even if you’re legally old enough to drink). Just ensure that you tighten up the bonds with those close to you. Strong relationships don’t disappear suddenly and all at once. It takes a good amount of neglect but it’s easier than you might think to lose touch with people. Give yourself every opportunity to not have to look back and wonder why you no longer talk to so-and-so.

4. Regroup

Here’s the crappy part of the post, feel free to skip over it if you don’t want to think about this break coming to an end just yet. Still reading? This break will come to an end. And it will probably happen faster than you think. I know that stings a lot. Ensure that when the time comes to straighten up and get back to school, you’re ready to do so. Go into the new semester well equipped to tackle everything that comes with it. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. The great thing about college is that you’re working towards your own goals and dreams. You should want to strive to work towards those goals and be proud of your accomplishments. Another semester may sound dooming but just tell yourself that you can get through it and it will all be worth it in the long run.


Be safe and enjoy the well earned break!