I’m constantly thinking up stories. As in literally every day. If I’m working on a book, then that story plays out in my head throughout my day. It’s there in the background, so that whenever I have a solitary moment – working out at the gym, or walking for the bus – the story picks back up in my head, and I carry it on.
If I’m not working on a project at the time, I find my head filling with new ideas. I’ll toy with an idea for an hour or two, a day maybe … and if it sticks, write it down … if not, I start again.
So the stories are always there … and yet that doesn’t mean they automatically translate onto my computer screen. Because sometimes I take my stories too far …
This has been my writing hurdle with my current book ‘Mercury’s Child‘.
I spent too much time thinking about the story before I began to write. And I got too far along the story!
You see, I write books in the same way I read them. I want to know what happens next. I invest in my characters, and want to know where they’re going … and so the problem with thinking up too much of a story before you get it down on paper, is that you don’t want to be writing the first part of the story. You want to be writing the later parts!
With Mercury’s Child I laid all the groundwork in my head, and couldn’t bring myself to write it all down, because I was worried that my impatience to get to the newer parts of the story – they parts I didn’t know yet – would translate into my written word.
And so for months and months I dawdled. At first I had excuses – it was the end of my ski season in Whistler, and I wanted to make the most of the skiing and socialising. Then I returned home, and there was the obvious excuse of catching up with friends and family who I hadn’t seen for years.
But now I have no excuse. I’ve been back home exactly 1 month, and I’m still yet to start work. I’m spending weekday after weekday waiting for my grown-up friends with their grown-up adult jobs, to leave work and come and play with me, and I’m getting bored. Now, if I’m really an author, I ought to be using all this spare time productively. And there are only so many magazine writing competitions I can enter in one month!
So I finally got started. I’m happy to admit that the first couple of days were a struggle – trying to make sure the start of my book remained as exciting and full of promise as the idea had when I first came up with it, despite my desire to fast-forward through the story until I got to a point where I felt like I was still being creative.
But the reason I’m writing is that I got over my hump! I got over the writing hurdle, and I’m back in a zone where I feel like I’m using my imagination again. And once I got the first three chapters of Mercury’s Child down, I could go back over them with fresh eyes, and actually add in new snippets. New ideas, which made me feel like I was actually using my imagination, and that I was injecting those things that I had been worried would no longer be present in the first parts of my story – excitement and intrigue – properly into it.
Obviously whether I’ve been successful is a subjective judgment, but in just four days, I’ve managed to pen twelve thousand, five hundred words. The first of my six chapters is on the blog – have a read, and let me know what you think. And if you want to read more, let me know, and I’ll post another chapter 🙂
So I guess my message today is that everyone has their hurdles, and for every writer, the challenges present themselves in different ways. But from my experience, the only way you get over a hurdle is by gritting your teeth, and hitting it face on. At first it might be tough, but once you’ve got something on the page, you’ve created a framework that you can go back and tweak. And trust me, the tweaking stage is far easier, and far more fun, than the initial ‘laying the framework’ phase – so just get that first part over and done with!