How To Handle The Story Idea That Is Not Meant To Be Written Straightaway #AmWriting

The story idea that is not meant to be written straightaway is a pesky little devil.

It will trick you, the writer, into thinking it is not worth pursuing and will let out a wicked laugh as you shelve the first few pages. As you walk away your naughty little story idea will blow a few raspberries and skip happily around the desk.

A lot of the time we give up on story ideas too quickly because they are not meant to be written straightaway.

Some story ideas enter your mind and allow you to write them simply using the bare bones of a plot or premise.

However some story ideas are a little bit wild. They need to live a little inside your head, in a notebook or a folder for days, weeks, months or in some cases years.

There are a couple of reasons why some story ideas need more time:

  • The idea is not fully formed. Even though you have a load of notes and a gang of boisterous fictional characters inside your head, the idea might still require some more thinking time. This is sadly one of the reasons why we hit Writer’s Block during a first draft.
  • You are not ready to write some stories. You are either not in the right mindset or perhaps you need to develop as a writer. The example I give is my YA novel idea. At this present moment I have not read enough YA or studied the genre. I don’t feel like I am ready to cross into YA. A few months ago I tried writing it after the idea first appeared in my head but after a failed first attempt I resigned myself to the fact that I am not ready to write it yet.
  • Your writer’s intuition is telling you there’s something not quite right about it. It’s very easy to ignore your intuition and dive straight into an idea which is lacking something. In most situations you won’t know what’s wrong you just hear the alarm bells inside your head. This story idea needs to run about your mind for a little while longer which will give you time to sit back, deep in thought and chew your way through several pencils.
  • You are getting carried away with instant gratification. We live in a world where everything is now now now. Sometimes this instant gratification desire spills into our creative work. We dive into writing ‘chapter one’ just so that we can get out our creative need met quicker. I am going to hold my hand up to this one.
  • You need to write something else which will help this story idea to grow. I know it sounds frustrating but sometimes you have to write a story to get to another story. It’s like you need some more training in a particular area before you can attempt this story.

I am guilty of writing story ideas straightaway when they should have been left to stew for a little bit longer. Patience is not one of my virtues. I get so excited with new ideas and try to write them as soon as they appear. This results in months of literary pain as I wrestle the idea into a draft.

Ideas that should not be written straightaway will kick and scream. They will dig their little heels in as you wipe away a layer of sweat from your forehead, whilst muttering all sorts of bad words. What I have learnt is that if you are facing resistance from an idea during a first draft you should ask yourself – is it meant to be written straightaway?

I am just starting to see the benefits of playing the long game with a story idea. Those ideas that are given sufficient time to run about and enjoy a little bit of freedom inside your head before being committed to paper, grow up into stronger and happier literary offspring.

Our story ideas are special gifts and not all ideas should be treated the same.

Have you experienced the story that is not meant to be written straightaway?

photo: Pixabay

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Still waiting for the Sleepless in Seattle film sequel. Romcom Author. Book Blogger. Mum of teens. Owned by a golden Labrador.

25 thoughts on “How To Handle The Story Idea That Is Not Meant To Be Written Straightaway #AmWriting

  1. This is a really useful post and very comforting to read. I too am guilty of wanting instant gratification with my creativity and I think it has a negative effect on my writing. It’s good to know, that it’s not a bad idea to let ideas “simmer” for a bit. Thanks Lucy.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever tried to write a story straightaway, but I have written them before they were ready. If I’d let the ideas roll around in my head a bit longer I might have worked out, for example, that a character had no motivation for what they were going to do. Starting to write at the right time is tricky.

  3. This happened to me last year with the most recent novel that I have written. I usually come up with the title before I write the story, then decide what the story itself is going to be about. The initial idea may not what it ends up being about, in fact it seldom is. My initial plan last year was to write something set in a prison during the 1920’s but I couldn’t formulate an idea and didn’t know enough the period. In the end it ended up being a contemporary crime novel. So sometimes the initial idea isn’t like you said the best.

    1. Your 1920s prison idea sounds interesting though. Different. My ideas change but I rush in and let the story rule me. This is why I think I have such a hard time on second drafts as I am just staring at a first draft from Hell 😂

  4. Enjoyed the post. Sometimes I get the feel for a story, but don’t have all the necessary components. And the harder I try, the more frustrated I get. But if I let it stew for a while, it usually comes to me. It’s that thing called patience, something I’m still learning!

  5. This is, as so many of your posts are, timely for me. I just spent a weekend talking with my father in law, who is the inspiration for a new story idea I have. But I want this story to be a slow burn. I don’t want to just rush out and write it, I want it to stew and develop and become something rich and flavorful. I don’t think it’s ready. I don’t think I’m ready. But I’m keeping the fires burning with plans for research and talking about the story and thinking about the characters. I think it makes so my sense to just let that new idea simmer awhile. Not every story is like that. But this one feels like that’s what it needs. Thank you for the insightful post!

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing this. This year I am all about letting things stew and marinade in my head. I love how you purposefully don’t want to rush your new tale. Last year I wrote too many 70k drafts without any thought or planning and I think I burnt out because of it.

  6. Great post.I know exactly what you mean.The 2 books I have, the ideas have been running in my head for years.I have learnt to play the long game even with blog posts.If I am not ready I am not.

  7. RE: “The idea is not fully formed…This is sadly one of the reasons why we hit Writer’s Block during a first draft.”
    Wow this is really a pregnant silence. I never thought of it that way before. And when it starts to grow, that’s another challenge in the first semester — and in the second… ut oh… terminating a story would be controversial.

  8. I just ran into this situation! I think mine fell under “Your writer’s intuition is telling you there’s something not quite right about it.” I had the setting/world and characters set up for a story, even plotted out the chapters, but I couldn’t find an interesting enough hook. I wanted a mystery, but it just wasn’t coming. Instead of forcing a weak hook, I decided to shelve my work for now and let the idea percolate while I work on something else.

    1. I was in this exact situation at the end of last year. I worried myself silly that it wasn’t coming out of me. It was only when I relaxed and thought ‘maybe some stories need to percolate?’

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