Erika Wassall the Jersey Farm Scribe here on…
Stoking the Fire of a New Idea
New ideas are intoxicating! They are teaming with possibilities and tend to dart around inside our minds, sometimes taking over thoughts when they weren’t even invited.
Typing a letter to a customer I may find my thoughts stolen away and suddenly on the screen appears notes on an exchange between the antagonist and my main character’s closet friend.
It’s a heated discussion that builds over a few paragraphs as Lars gets more and more defensive of the way Tris has been acting lately. She finally stopped acting like she was fine and starting to face being shipped off to Aunt Sherry’s, so maybe people should just give her some space. Besides, who was HE to judge when –
Sorry. Sigh. It really has a life of it’s own.
But I know what will happen. It’s sad, but it’s true.
The excitement will fade. It won’t be lost completely. There will still be parts of me that can’t wait to dive in, but the cloud-nine feeling won’t be so constant.
I’ll remember that writing is hard work.
AND I’ll start to feel overwhelmed because this new manuscript will be harder than the others in some way. Maybe I’m going for a picture book that’s UNDER 400 words this time. Or maybe it’s a longer story or a different age range, or a more complex topic. Either way, each story has it’s own challenges.
Phew… I’m getting anxious just THINKING about it.
But I have to keep the juice flowing, keep the intrigue brewing, keep the love alive.
My main objective is to avoid letting the relationship between me and the idea fizzle. The relationship between a writer and their manuscript definitely has parallels to falling in love.
It starts with a wide-eyed wonderment: What a GREAT idea! It’s never been done like THIS before. This will be the best thing I’ve ever written! The words flow naturally, the ideas, the concepts, everything seems meant to be!
Road blocks arise: Well, yeah, I’m going to have to deal with that at some point. But it’ll work itself out eventually. I don’t need to think about that yet. Small struggles are overcome and larger ones may be looming, but they’re certainly not deal breakers.
Reality sets in: Wow. This is hard. Not EVERY aspect of this is going to naturally be perfect.
The question is… now what?
When you come down from that cloud, whether it be in a relationship with a person or an idea, there comes a point where you have to decide if the WORK it’s going to take is worth it. NOTHING is perfect. No manuscript worth writing is easy.
And you know what, it’s okay if the answer is no sometimes. Just file that idea away, and maybe you’ll circle back to it someday with a fresh perspective that will make all the difference in the world.
But if you still have “that feeling” about the piece, if it still gives you chills, despite whatever obstacles you know you’ll have to face, then don’t let the reality scare you away.
My best weapon in the battle to keep the flame burning is to not let too much time go by without working on it.
New words are thrilling.
I think that’s a sentiment that many of us can relate to. As writers, new words give life, they create something out of nothing. They’re a beautiful and powerful presence.
As a freelance writer, writing every day is not one of my challenges. But I have so much other writing that it’s easy to push aside any particular project. So I make sure that I don’t let more than three days go by without putting at least an hour or two into whatever new project I’m focused on. Even if it’s just doing some character development interviews or looking over a plot flowchart, I focus my mind on shaping the body of work.
It keeps the idea from getting stale. It morphs as I work on it. The living entity that is the manuscript gets stronger. And I naturally feed off the energy it puts forth.
It’s a beautiful thing really, because when I get over that first hump, that first lull where the cloud-nine feeling is wavering, where I have to dig down deep and really put the effort in to keep it alive, that’s also often where I realize that this new idea really IS something special.
It’s not just infatuation. It’s not just a fling. I’m in for the long haul. Why?
Because the manuscript is worth it.
Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!
Thank you Erika for another great post. We all enjoy your posts.