Usually, the whole writing journey starts with a single idea. You’re probably going to get that new idea while you’re innocently reading a book or watching a movie.
Maybe you already have the first beginnings of an idea forming in your mind. That stirring in your soul when you close the book. That thought about: This can’t be the end. What about so-and-so? What will happen to them if something or the other happens?
And then, the next thing you know, you have an idea. Some people dismiss that idea and open a new book. Some of us, though, are consumed by that idea until we just want to write a few pages to get it out.
But a few pages isn’t enough. So you write a few more.
You fall in love with the idea. With the characters. With the sheer joy of exploring your newly created scenario. With the joy of pure creation.
At this point, my friend, you’re screwed.
The muse has you hooked, and she’s a cruel cruel mistress. You’ll be grumpy and agitated when you don’t write. And often wracked by fears and doubts as you do. And yet somehow, you’re still simply not happy unless you’re writing.
And then, as you settle into the routine (you know, the way people who ride a roller coaster again and again eventually can sleep on it.), things become complicated.
Because while you adore the story you’re working on, a new idea comes to you.
Now suddenly you have a choice. Most new kids (me included when I was there) let my inspiration and ideas carry me from project to project. But the thing is, it’s a real risk that you’ll end up getting lost in your million new ideas. So lost that you won’t know which one to pick up and which one to let lie.
That’s when the new kids start crying something along the line of: “Oh I just can’t finish projects!”
Well… no. You haven’t taught yourself how to see anything through. Trust me on this: your muse is a terrible enabler. She will give you five new ideas for every single one you start. And five for each of those. And so on.
It’s your job to say: “Thanks muse, but can we please finish this story first?”
It’s always a choice you’re making, even if you don’t realize it yet. But if you ever want to get done, you need to commit to finishing one thing. Then the next. And the next.
Or, you might be like me and you’ll learn how to actually work on seven projects at any given time and still finish all of them in a year.
But that’s a skill I learned first by learning how to finish one book, and then two. So focus on that first. Focus on finishing your stories, or your ideas will remain ideas only.
Where did your first idea strike you? How soon after that did the second idea hit?