When you decide to become a writer, there are certain struggles you need to come to terms with. The first is that it will never be easy, and rejection is a difficult yet inevitable part of the process. Another struggle can be time management, the when/where/how of sitting down and physically typing words. This is especially true if you are writing around your time at a day job, as most new writers are. There never seem to be enough hours in the day, and there are few things worse than writing drowsy. Yeah, those pages always end up getting rewritten later.
Today’s struggle is about the development stage and nurturing the ideas that spring forth from your cranium space. Every writer does this slightly differently. Some sit and meticulously outline to the tiniest detail on every plot point and character. Other writers let it all flow naturally from the pen tip to the page with little planning. Many call this “seat of your pants” writing, or “pantsing.” I call it “going commando.” Don’t judge.
Most writers fall between these two extremes, including myself. I outline some, usually to get started, but it’s always very loose. Just a few ideas of what I want to touch on to get from point A to point C, and usually some important dialogue bits I want to include. This is done earlier in the day, around lunch time and during breaks, but I keep a pad of paper next to me in case I get a good idea at an inopportune time. Once I get home in the evening, I use that loose outline to direct my “commando.” Sometimes the outlined points and dialogue gets used, sometimes better ideas come along, and sometimes they just doesn’t seem to work.
This is all well and good once you have a basic idea of what your story is, who your characters are, and what you want to say with the larger work. It’s more difficult when a new idea sparks inside you. Those times when the tiny light bulb goes off, and you find yourself mumbling out loud “Now, that’s an interesting idea.” How do you take that and give it life?
This is where I am right now. I had an idea, and I think it is a pretty good one. Problem is, I’m not sure if this idea is short story material or if the concept is enough to be a novel. I don’t know who the supporting cast will be, what subplots will be present, or what the overall theme would be. All I have is a general plot idea and a main character, and even he (or she) is on the bubble.
So what do you do when this happens to you? What is your process of growing and cultivating the idea into a workable story? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.
Till next time,