Your story idea is busy cooking on the creative stove inside your head. It will bubble away nicely under a steady heat as you go about your daily business. One day you will get a delicious whiff of your story in the form of an interesting scene or a quirky character and your excitement will start to build. Before you know it you find yourself getting carried away, chucking on your literary apron, removing your story idea from the stove and deciding to do something with it. Your writer’s intuition will kick in, like an annoying family member or relative who likes to interfere when you are in the kitchen, and they will whisper to you your story needs a bit longer cooking time. This is where you roll your eyes and tell your writer’s intuition that you know best.
At this point if you were truly honest with yourself you would open up the story pot and see you have a hint of a structure and a few rough ideas about the cast of characters but not enough to make a proper start. The temptation to work on your half-cooked story idea has got the better of you.
Sometimes story ideas need to cook a little longer inside your head, in a notebook or a folder. It’s nothing to feel ashamed about. Some ideas need more thought and cooking time.
There are a couple of reasons why some story ideas need more cooking 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 the story. You are either not in the right mindset or stuck on your current project and looking for something new and exciting to work on. We have all been here.
- You’re 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 our creative need met quicker. I am going to hold my hand up to this one as well.
- You have one eye on your story pot and your other eye on social media where two writers you know are shouting about their new book deal, another writer has just written their 90k draft in a less than a fortnight and someone else has uploaded a video of themselves doing an impressive cartwheel (legs straight up in end air) after hearing their book is a bestseller. You don’t have time to sit and watch your story cook.
I have been the impatient cook with some of my stories so many times. It’s so hard these days to just think about your story ideas and not do anything with them. Social media and instant gratification have made me take my stories off the stove when really they should have cooked for longer.
I am starting to see the benefits of letting a story cook for a bit longer. When I find myself holding the lid of the story pot and gazing longingly at my half-cooked story I have started to train myself to pop the lid back on it and walk away.
Story ideas are like special recipes and not all ideas should be cooked the same way.
Have you experienced the story that requires more cooking time?
Stay strong, writer x