Friday, 4 September 2015

Annoying ideas that won't leave you alone

If you're anything like me, you'll be writing your novel, pounding out words (or trying to, anyways) and feeling pretty awesome about your novel.

Then, it hits. This character is a little thin. My plot isn't very original. This needs some massive line editing. No one will want to read my book. This whole thing sucks. I should just throw it out. The whole time these negative thoughts are building up, an annoying idea that won't leave you alone is spinning in the back of your mind. Maybe it's that one about zombie pirate aliens who live in caves on the ocean floor. Maybe it's that contemporary series where book one finishes with the end of life on earth as we know it. Maybe it's that romance one where a jumbo jet crashes into the building in the end and kills everyone. Whatever it is, it begins to sound like a more promising investment than the sucky book that you're working on. 

For some reason I couldn't find a picture of zombie pirate
aliens living in caves on the ocean floor, so I
decided that this was awesome enough to fill in for it. 

And this is a very, very dangerous place to be in. 


One of two outcomes can happen here. One, you ignore your newest story idea and finish the draft of your novel, then decide what to do from there. Two, you ditch your current novel and latch onto your new novel until you decide it sucks and get yet another new idea. This cycle will repeat itself. Again, and again, and again, hence why it's a very dangerous place to be. Eventually, if you are anything like me, you'll give up writing all together because you can't finish a book and you're a terrible writer and the world as we know it is going to end in floods and fire (not simultaneously). Being in this cycle is like Luke Skywalker being trapped in the Death Star. Or getting hypnotized by Loki. It is not a good place to be, needless to say. 


CAN I JUST SAY THAT THE DEATH
STAR IS AWESOME? Source 

I found that there's an easy way to get out of this. (Ok, I say easy.) You have to finish a novel. A whole one, from start to finish. No matter how painful it is, no matter how many tears are shed, no matter how many computers/notebooks/pads of paper/typewriters/family members/whatever are thrown at the wall, you must finish it. Granted, it'll still probably stink by the end of it. All first drafts do (unless you're inhuman, then your first drafts are probably good), but that's what editing is for. When you finish a novel, when you type The End, it's the best feeling. You know that you can finish a novel now. 

But that's not fun! you say. My zombie alien/contemporary apocalypse/jumbo jet book is so much cooler! That might be true, but we're avoiding getting sucked into the Death Star right now. Avoid getting pulled into the Death Star and finish your novel! 


Their armour may be thin, plastic and stupid, but they are
many and they wait for you in the Death Star. 

To avoid being utterly miserable while writing your novel, I find that writing a scene or two from your new idea then going back and finishing your novel really helps. That way, you get your ideas down, you get a break from your sucky novel and, most importantly, you get the new idea out of your system. However, the key word here is a scene or two. Not one hundred pages, otherwise you fall back into the New Idea Trap. 


I've used this method before, and it works great for me. I've finished my novel, and now I have several half-fleshed out ideas that I can go back to. 


In conclusion - zombies are cool, but don't become a prisoner in the Death Star. How do you avoid the New Idea Trap? 

6 comments:

  1. Personally, I write down like 2-3 paragraphs of what the "New Idea" will be about. Then I realize how unfleshed out it is and that I should go back to be current WIP until I get more ideas about the other one. But I feel your pain. It's especially hard when you've been working on a series for a long time and you feel like you need some fresh characters/ a new world to play with (which is why I think I'm going to try something different for NaNo this year).

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    1. Hahaha, that sounds like me. Only I write the 2-3 paragraphs, realize this will never work and still really want to write it. *shrugs* Go figure. YES I UNDERSTAND YOU!! It's almost like you need to work on two ideas at once. Oooh, you must tell me about your NaNo project! I'm super excited.

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  2. Ack, I used to be all too familiar with the Death Star trap (also, I love how you randomly threw in the Captain America poster *nods approvingly*) I used to have so much trouble. I would get so discouraged with my current piece, because, of course, I expected it to come out perfect, or at least next to perfect. And it was so hard to write stuff that wasn't brilliant. And all the other shiny ideas were calling to me, begging to be turned into marvelous novels, and gah. Yeah. I had to force myself to finish a whole book in a short time frame in order to break myself out of that rut. And I've finished other full first drafts since, and still haven't cheated in the middle of drafting (although some finished drafts do get left on the backburner for quite a while while I edit others).

    Anyway, great post. I think I'll have to refer back to this when I'm stuck in the swamps of NaNoWriMo. :P

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    1. :-/ the Death Star does have the tendency to use its tractor beam. Thank you :) It's my goal in life to bring Captain America up whenever I can. My sister managed to sneak it into a religion exam somehow.

      Yeah, it can be really hard to get over that initial issue of accepting that it's not going to be perfect. Then you look at all the other books people have written and how good they are and before you know it you're in the Death Star. I'm so glad you managed to escape! It definitely makes you a better writer. Thanks for sharing some of your struggles :) and congratulations on finishing your drafts. (You must post more snippets, I'm terribly curious. If they're anything like your blog they must be awesome.) Good luck with NaNo!

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  3. YES YES YES!! I totally agree with you! Finishing a project is huge! Even if at the end you decide to scrap it, you've got to finish it.

    Your analogies were too funny. Say no to being a prisoner in the Death Star!

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    1. Yes!!!!! If you don't finish a novel, it gets harder and harder to continue writing. It gives you so much more experience and confidence (I read once that if you don't finish a novel then you'll be really good at beginnings, alright at middles and bad at endings).

      Thank you :) I feel like I should start a petition or something.

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