From the archives….
At about 2 a.m. Friday night, I broke up with my Shiny New Idea. I’ll get over it, but it did get me thinking about how we writers can tell when we ought to abandon an idea. (This is, of course, completely different from deciding to abandon a work-in-progess, which is a post for another day. )
So. Ideas. Sometimes we come across a Shiny New Idea, and BAM! Total infatuation. We’ve got to start writing! Or sometimes the idea has been lurking there for a long time, like a friend we’ve known forever, and the relationship is mulling, changing, blossoming slowly into a full-fledged, must-write Idea. Either way, when we decide to start writing, we’re making a commitment. Books take time, hard work, persistence, patience, more time, more hard work, more persistence…. Sorta makes me want to be sure before I get too involved.
Usually, if an idea keeps coming back to me, if it won’t leave me alone, that’s a pretty good indication that I need to write it. But with my last great idea, I realized a clean break was necessary. It’s not you, I told my idea, it’s me. See, it is a good idea. It’s unique, and high-concept, and I totally know how I’d pitch it. But sadly, I’m not the person to write it. It’s not you, it’s me….
How do I know I’m not destined to write this story? Lack of passion. I just can’t see myself spending a year or two of my life completely wrapped up in this story. Now, if this lack of passion was hitting mid-way through the writing, I’d be slower to assume it’s not meant to be, because I know writing is hard. I expect to hit those this-book-is-going-to-kill-me moments that inevitably pop up somewhere between the honeymoon beginning and the happily ever after. But at the get-go? even before the wedding? Danger sign! Beep Beep Beep! Back away from the idea. Do NOT make a commitment.
Carrying on this already-stretched-thin metaphor, I guess I could look at the several days I spent outlining as the dating stage. The courting. And I’m glad I spent that time with the idea, because if I hadn’t, I might’ve always wondered, you know. Was I wrong? Should I have written that? And now I know. You’re a wonderful idea, but you need to be with someone who will really love you the way you deserve to be loved.
Now what? Well, I pulled out my little black book (srsly, my idea notebook is black) and looked at other possibilities. There’s this one that I’ve known for a few years that’s been mulling and slowly blooming. I’m not sure what others will think of it, but I could definitely see myself spending a great deal of time with it.
I think I’ll ask it to dinner and see what happens.
How do you decide which ideas to pursue and which to toss?