Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stick with your ideas?

Sorry, everyone...I completely forgot that I was supposed to do a post today. The truth is, I've been swamped all week with work. But, I wish everyone happy writing!

I've been working on a new story, and I hope it engages me enough so that I can see it through. I've been trying my best to keep it under wraps, though I've spilled the beans to a couple of you. It involves the Dalai Lama! He gets hooked up to a machine and becomes semi-robotic! That's all I'll say and nothing more.

Michelle brought up the other day that she was surprised by how often I start ideas and don't finish them. The reason I do that is because each new story is an experiment for me. I don't know if it will go anywhere, and most of them don't, even though the beginning might be interesting. I tend to start multiple things and then stick with the one that compels me the most.

Does anyone else work the same way or do you find one good idea and stick with it?


  1. Oh, heavens, if I had a dollar for every idea I played around with and then ditched, I wouldn't be sitting here at the office working for a living.

    There's a huge stack of folders in a closet at home with the first 20, 30, 60, even 100 pages of ideas (for novels) that I started and never finished. It's a good thing I rarely write short stories or that stack would be even bigger.

    No doubt this all stems from childhood (doesn't everything?), when my mother insisted that we clean our dinner plates (finish what you start!), but we had a hungry dachshund named Humphrey parked beneath the table to whom one could easily slip the too-dry meatloaf (abandon the project!).

    Sadly, Humphrey drew the line at lima beans.

    -Alexandra MacKenzie

  2. Domey, I think Michelle better not find out about exactly how many beginnings to stories and novellas I have saved on my computer that will likely remain as they are right now, or her eyes might just pop out of her head. I think it's hundreds.

    So let's keep that between us.

  3. I have a folder full of ideas - some are nothing more than a few notes, others are 2 - 3 chapters. There will come a time when, out of any brand spanking new brilliant ideas, I'll open the folder and go with whichever one strikes my fancy at the moment.

    There are times, at least for me, when the words flow easily and - seemingly - unending. Other times, the words are a struggle. Sometimes I persever on the project, while other times I just set it aside, knowing there's a chance I'll get back to it one day.

    So, don't despair at so many unworked on ideas. The fact that you're still having them is a very good thing.


  4. I have notebooks that are full of unused first lines, premises, bits of dialogue and description and other stuff I could never figure out how to develop. I have a few novels half-written or completely outlined that I know I'll never finish. Whenever I start anything, it's with a sense of doubt that I will produce a full story or novel. The moment when I realize that yes, I'll actually create a whole work out of it, is always a huge relief and cause for celebration. Though I am getting better at figuring out which ideas will bear fruit before I start writing in earnest. Hmm. Fruit. I think I'm hungry.

  5. Alexandra, Humphrey is representing some eternal truth that I desperately need. Although, I guess I don't want my story ideas gobbled up, even if I decide not to work on them anymore. Have you ever picked up one of those old ideas and finished them? I ask because I've never done that.

    Ha ha, Nevets. Well, I should point out that Michelle wasn't critical of our habit in any way!

    Scott, that was very well said. Like I mention above, I don't think I've ever gone back to an old idea after I abandoned it the first time. But, I do like to keep them handy just in case.

    Scott B. that's a really good point. I think I'm getting better at predicting whether or not certain stories will work out. Sometimes I'll work on something even if I don't think it will work, just because I like the challenge. Challenge is part of it for me. If the story feels too easy, I get bored.

  6. Or it could just be because you're a "P" in the Myer-Briggs thing.

    Pursuing and exploring ideas are wonderful things, I say. (I think I am a natural "P" who turned super-duper "J" as I grew older and faced deadlines. Now that I don't have a real job any more, I believe I have reverted.)

  7. Not following through? I've got it covered. Haha. Er, I meant to say that I'm a fellow experimenter, and that you and I are highly intelligent men. Wouldn't you agree?

  8. I usually follow through with my big ideas because I never write down or start any of the little ones. That's probably a shame...

  9. I have quite a few stuffed away in a drawer. So what makes me choose which ones to work on? I have no idea. It just depends on which one sparks the most interest at the moment. ;)


  10. Domey: I've never gone back to the Scraps and Leftovers Closet to nibble, no. I have entire novels in there, too -- ones I wrote back in my 20s that are simply dreadful. I used to go back and look at them in the hopes of salvaging something but eventually plastered large notes over the folders saying, "STOP LOOKING AT THIS - IT SUCKS!"

    However, I do have one partial novel in there which I am hopeful of resurrecting (it's only a little moldly). I started it about five years back and got to 50,000 words before deciding it was toast. Mmmmmm....toast...
    I'm having second thoughts now about leaving it in limbo. I might do a Scott B. and rewrite it from scratch.

    Speaking of Scott B. and his hunger pangs: I've got some really stale meatloaf you can munch on....

    Humphrey was a great dog. We got him in 1966 and his full name was Humphrey Lyndon. You might be able to discern our family's political leanings from that name.


  11. Alex: I never go back to my "leftovers" files, either. Though you might enjoy rewriting yours from scratch. It was a very educational experience for me to rewrite Horatio. (Also, I'll have some news about that book on Friday!)

    Mighty Reader packed me off to school with a banana and a sugar cookie this morning, so I'll pass on the meatloaf.

    Davin: I agree about not wanting to be bored with something that's too easy to write. It's like the "degree of difficulty" I mentioned during your visit. I want to try progressively harder things as a writer, to see what's possible and to do what's impossible.

  12. @Domey - Yeah, I just wanted to save her some mind-boggling.

    I do go back to my incomplete starts some times, but usually I end up at the same blockage that stopped them the first time.

  13. Too late for keeping that between you two, Mr. Nevets. :)

  14. Bah. I'll never understand these internets.

  15. I had some of those files, too. But you know how when some famous writer or composer dies and eventually those things come out of hiding? Guess what, I plan on being famous someday!

    So I deleted the cyber crap files and burned the written ones. That way when I die and everyone thinks I was a good writer, there won't be any evidence to prove otherwise.

  16. I work with many ideas and see what comes of them, sometimes they spark into huge novel ideas, sometimes just poetry, and other times I manage short really nothing goes to waste

  17. Davin, this new story sounds ingenious. I wish you good luck with it. DON'T DITCH THIS ONE! Need a beta, I'm here.

    And I have an idea file full of abandoned ideas. But you never know when one of them might take flight in my head, so I keep them all. Just in case.

    Thanks for thinking of Christopher today. He came out of surgery safe and sound. They were worried the breathing tube would cause more bleeding. (Because of the abundance of blood vessels.) It didn't. And the general anesthesia has been known to cause stroke in Sturge-Weber patients, who all ready have an astronomical risk. He's fine and I am breathing again.

    I'll be able to sleep tonight. :)

  18. More like the ideas find me and the characters won't let go of me until I finish it.

    Of course, I write many, many characters (as part of a group) on a regular basis and get to do multiple plot arcs with them at the same time so maybe that is why when it comes to novels and short stories, I stick with one thing until it's done. The other is always a work in progress.



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