Whether it’s music, painting, jewelry making…pretty much anything within the realm of the arts, it requires vision on the part of the person doing the creating. Something they see or hear will spark an idea and presto! They will begin to create what they’ve seen in their mind. This is the same for me when I’m writing a book, article or blog. Something will spark an idea in my mind and it will blossom into a story.
With each book I write, I have an idea about what is going to happen in the story – it’s not so much an outline as it is a general feeling of what the plot is and what the characters will go through. Unfortunately, as I begin to write said story, I normally encounter that feeling that I’m all too familiar with; the feeling that what I’m writing is complete and total crap. I’m not in my groove yet. This is when I will put the book aside and seek a new, fresh idea, seeking the one that I’ll fall in love with and be compelled to write.
Once I completed my second novel, I began this process. What do I write about now? What will keep readers interested? Is there a story I can tell that hasn’t been told a thousand times before?
I started a story that I thought was a pretty good one. A few thousand words in, I got that familiar feeling once again:
My writing is pure crap.
Still, I save the file because you never know and…well, I have a hard time with the delete button. To me, it’s sort of like cutting off a finger. So, I closed the file after carefully saving my less than stellar work and then began the process of searching for another story to tell. But, in the back of my mind, this story lingered. I still felt it was a good one. It was just didn’t feel it yet; my writing wasn’t worthy of the story.
Then, I got another idea. Excitement brewed inside of me. This…this was the one! This will be the next bestseller! I began writing…I got several thousand words in and then a familiar feeling started to creep up on me. I reviewed several paragraphs of my work and felt that once again, my writing was lacking something. If only I knew what.
So, I saved my work and closed the file, again.
Defeated, yet again, I sought out a new idea.
But the second story, just like my first one, lingered in the back of my mind. I couldn’t help but still think about those characters and that I’d somehow let them down. They were unfinished, incomplete. Their story was a good one; one that needed to be told. I just needed to figure out the best way to tell it.
I continued my search for the Holy Grail of stories. I waited for something to happen that would spark such an idea. Before long, one came along and I began to jot things down. I mulled over the storyline in my head, creating characters and plotting. It was going along smoothly.
I was feeling really great about this one.
Until I hit the wall. I sighed heavily and saved my work once again. Good feeling gone.
If you’ve been counting, you’ll see that I’ve now started three books, all of which have been put aside and are currently in varying stages of completion.
The thing is, these stories are good; they’re really good. It’s just that I’m not feeling as though my writing is as good as it ought to be. When I see the story on paper, it’s just not as good as the version in my mind was.
I now find myself in the middle of these three stories, both unwilling and unable to give up on any of them. They need to be written because I love all of them. I can’t choose which one I should focus on. Seriously, it’s like choosing which one of your children to take on a vacation. You know you’ll take the other two later, but why should you have to leave one at home now?
So, I’ve given up my Sophie’s Choice dilemma and decided to keep working on all three of them whenever the mood for one of them strikes me. If one character gives me an idea, I’ll write it. If I think of a scene for one of the books, I’ll write that. I keep going between my three books, writing whatever comes to mind.
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there is no right or wrong way to write. Like any other creative process, you do what works best for you.
And it’s all good.
Donna Small is the author of Just Between Friends and the forthcoming novel, A Ripple in the Water. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. You can visit her at DonnaSmall.com.