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?