I have the opposite problem. Every time I sit down to think of cool story ideas, I am overwhelmed by the number of cool sounding stories I wish I could see as movies. Like Billy Blaze in NIGHT SHIFT, I can't keep these ideas out—they just coming at me all the time ("idea: feed mayonnaise directly to the tuna fish!").
Or, as Headley Lamar tried to explain to brutish shit-kicking Taggart:
My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives!
These damned ideas are flying at me like bugs at the teeth of a grinning cycle rider: too many, too quickly, too often for me to even think about it most times. When one of these ideas hits and sticks with me—when it lodges in my brain (or, to continue the forced metaphor, "teeth") such that I find myself still thinking about it over and over, constantly, for long stretches of time, with that idea expanding and developing and revealing itself like a glovebox roadmap unfolding on an open-window breeze—then I will usually add that idea (and the synopsis as it exists at that point) to my running list document of ideas.
This morning I added another damned idea to the current Idea List, bringing the count to TWENTY story/screenplay ideas I'd love to work on if ever I could just find the time.
[And, please: spare me your lisping snarky comments about "so why are you wasting time on a blog, Sir Thinkalot?" Urping up a post like this one here takes me about ten minutes of no special effort, and often helps me clear the pipes prior to a session of more serious writing. Writing a screenplay takes weeks of dedicated effort. You might as well compare taking a sip from a water fountain to eating Thanksgiving Dinner, as both involve "swallowing."]
Five of those ideas have already received some degree of my dedicated attention: one is an old idea that was once a completed original screenplay of mine and now exists as a sort of basketcase dismantled project, another has been written and performed decently in major contests, another is under current development and has attracted some degree of attention and support, and two others have intro/test scenes written to help me define and explore the tone of the eventual project.
(Curiously/annoyingly enough: two other ideas from that list have recently shown up as actual movie projects elsewhere, indicating to me that perhaps I have a fairly decent mind for recognizing commercially viable story ideas, so bite me, naysayers.)
My point there is that these are not empty pipe dreams I am talking about. These are not throwaway half-formed moments or scenes I am talking about. These are actual story worlds, where something really interesting is going on and interesting people are forced into interesting situations to overcome or prevent these big events. "Stories," in other words. Stories which I know would rate my interest to the point of plopping 9 bucks on a ticket counter to see on a screen.
And I'll be damned lucky to ever play with even half of these cool ideas.
So when I hear people—whom I absolutely trust and believe—complain that they just can't come up with a cool idea to pursue as a writing project, I am totally confused and bewildered.
That just doesn't happen 'round here.