I’ve just returned to Scrivener now there’s an IOS version (and to writing after losing my confidence). I have ideas and snippets and pieces of text already in Scrivener and am going through a process of collecting all my writing from other platforms and files. Most of them are in Scrivener and now I have lots of duplicate content in a Scrivener temporary project. I’m comparing all the texts in case I’ve missed something and find a gem.
I’ve probably got about 10 different projects by the time I’m done. My question is how to decide which is the one I’m going to pick up and run with? I’m torn. Or pick one and see how it feels for size… and if it doesn’t seem to fit right now, pick up another one? Could anyone share how they’ve picked which idea is the right one, or at least the right one, right now.
I did Nanowrimo last year - got to 25k but got behind… and then didn’t continue. My confidence bombed. I realised that I didn’t care enough about my characters and didn’t know what to do! I’m not sure if it matters that I care about or like them. Stephen King didn’t and still doesn’t like Carrie White (Stephen King - On Writing), but she changed his life. I also realised that I wouldn’t want to read this story - if I’d bought it I would have thrown it across the room.
Any thoughts on sifting through ideas? I’m hoping for a lightbulb moment as I review all my writings and scribblings, but I’m very aware of my Nano mediocre effort.
Dear Silver, hiya,
Having just read your opening post, not for the first time on these boards, I find myself asking, ‘Does this poster really and truly want to write?’ Something of consequence, that is. A feeling I get from reading your op, is a lack of determination or commitment, e.g., failure to churn out 50k words in nano (emphasis on churn out), could be that you paid too much attention to the quality of your output, rather than, as in quite a lot of cases, if memory serves, the quantity. Nobody, but, nobody aspires toward becoming a writer, so as to do well at Nano. Do they?
Certainly, Silver, failure at Nano, is, under no circumstances wottsoevvaa!! … reason to quit. This may sound rude or impertinent, but is it possible you are in love with the concept of being a writer, rather than writing? Without the latter, you’ll never attain the former.
I’ll echo Vic’s wise words about the importance of resilience in this game.
Some more advice:
You wouldn’t (hopefully) try and complete a marathon without some much shorter training runs. So, set your initial sights smaller. Give yourself permission to write shorter pieces and work up to longer novel length works.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Writing is an art. You’ll get better at it the more you practice your craft. That’s something that will remain true your whole life, no matter how good you get. So give yourself permission to be average, and just practice, practice, practice.
Make sure you have something to say! You need to be excited about everything you write or it’ll come across to the reader. Here’s how I develop new ideas and test to see if they are something that’s going to work: Pigfender’s Guide on How To Plot
I endorse the advice from Vic and Pigfender above. I particularly like Pigfender’s POOEE formulation (you have to follow his link to appreciate it), because it implies to me that “ideas” are not really what you should be looking for. You should be looking for notions that are somewhat bigger than the word “ideas” suggests. Some authors call them “concepts”, but I rather like the term “pooee”, because Pigfender’s acronym summarises the elements that are necessary (see his link), and the key ingredient of conflict underlying those elements, and I shall try to use it appropriately from now on.
Silver, I often have this problem. I’ve got six novel projects going right now, from a few pages on one to third draft editing/polishing on another. If I’m on a deadline like with my near-finished book, I will devote myself to that project fully. Write words, no matter what. Even if it’s just a stream of consciousness type of writing at first, usually it will eventually turn into something that can be incorporated, or at the least thrown out as I realize something else that needs to be added. Get the brain working, basically, even if only on a subconscious level.
When I’m free to choose which project to work on, I choose the one that grabs me. If I’m in the shower and I think of a cool scene for one of my stories and I can’t get it out of my head and it keeps growing and mutating, that’s the story I work on, even if I’d written 20,000 words in a row on a different story. Or I’ll be working on one and something occurs to me for another project and I’ll jot something down for that, but it might make me think of something else for it, and then I’m off and running. If I’m watching TV before bed and something comes to me to add to a scene, that’s what I’ll work on.
Basically, write what you want to write, for the most part. But whichever project you pick, you do just need to sit down and belt out the words. It’s easier to write 100,000 words that sort of work together and that can be edited into something great, than it is to write 50,000 words that work great together but leave you nowhere to expand.
You mentioned that King doesn’t like Carrie White, which I believe. However, I think he was talking about the character herself, as though she were a person, and that he doesn’t like her, rather than not liking writing her. You can dislike a character without hating writing them. I’ve found that some of my antagonists are people that I would probably push in front of a bus in real life, but they’re awesome to write, because it allows me to put a lot of thought into them. Characters that you hate are often as easy to write as characters that you love. It’s the ones you’re indifferent about that are difficult, because you don’t care one way or the other what happens to them.
I can’t believe all of you are AGREEING WITH VIC-K!!! What is wrong with you!?!?
Even when he is “right”, like he is this time, can you really sacrifice that much of your influence with such a tragic lack of judgement by publicly agreeing with him?
I quit trying to write for all the same reasons. I realized that the part I loved about writing was the creation, not the process. That left me free to piddle with “ideas” and “notions” with no real commitment needed on my part. After a bit I realized that the thing that holds me back is not the idea or the notion or the process, but the why. Why did I want to write a novel? no idea. Why did I want to write “poetry”? No idea. Why did I want to write a short story? Because I could. Because I could do it in an hour. Because it gave me the freedom to now be stuck with a huge project that would depress me and never let me go.
And that might be the way to find out which idea to follow. It may not be an idea for a plot as much as an idea of WHAT TYPE of writing to do. Kind of like dating… find the right fit and … presto!
Anyhoo… I’m not very smart (as vic-k and mr piggy will tell you. Just sharing my experience (and having a good laugh with folks in the process).
You’ll have t’ cut ‘em some slack, numpt. It’s not fair to expect them to disagree with a guy who’s always right … even when he’s wrong, is it? Y’ve gorra bend with wind … go with the flow … know wot I’m sayin’, numpt? youtube.com/watch?v=kTg4YV3_weo
I try Mr K. I try. But there are things that just … just … can’t be be tolerated. Like that statement “I agree with vic-k”. That’s like realizing your financial advisor is bankrupt. Or your accountant doesn’t know the difference between + and - in simple maths. It is just not acceptable.