Ideas can be new, a lusty temptation, a much-needed sledgehammer to break out of a plot corner, or a lethal form of resistance. Many are forgotten before pen, pencil, or paper scrap can be found.
Like you, I’m a writer. I’m in the middle of a draft. A challenging draft. It is especially tough because I’ve reached a plateau in my practice. I need to break through the current wall of resistance. I stepped away from the manuscript two weeks after a steady roll. Why? I had an idea. A good idea. A great idea (aren’t they all) for a new book. Writers have scads of ideas. They come over coffee, while driving, in the shower, or three a.m. Writers, hoarders of office supplies, are often without jotting basics when randomness hits.
New story ideas are exciting, like a second date, possibility without the tedium of attention or work. Sledgehammer ideas are gifts from the gods. They make the hero vulnerable, the villain likable, and the plot twists windy as a country road.
When’s the last time you dug under an idea to ask why this idea, now? If you are in the midst of a writing project, that you have committed to like marriage and a new idea pops up, resist the temptation. I know from sad experience I have to return to my steady title waiting for my return. I must pocket my sexy new idea for another time, the right and fulfill my commitment to write to finish.
Have you read Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art? If no, read it. If you’re not writing, if you claim to be blocked, if you think you’re writing is crap, or you don’t have the right inspiration — stop talking or actually listening to your corseted internal editor. READ IT NOW.
I don’t get a cent or an atta girl for recommending this book. I recommend it because it calls you, me and every other writer out on the elaborate, inane, and blockage generating lengths we will indulge to interrupt our writing and complete something, anything. Drafts are meant to be written not perfect.