Friday, April 22, 2011

Every Day I Write the Book - Before You Start Writing

This is the conceit of this series of posts, and I beg of you to bear with me: I write with a strong “I” (even the title of the series, Every Day I Write the Book includes an “I”) yet I am writing to “you” and titling my posts accordingly. Make no mistake about it, I am attempting, in my own poor way, to share how I write, and I am not trying to tell you how to write. I can only hope that, in sharing my tips and strategies, I can in some way provide a little worthwhile, useful or strictly entertaining information to you. Enjoy.

I am fortunate. Always, I feel as if I have a hundred more ideas floating around in my skull than I can possibly put down on paper (or screen). This means I don’t usually have to struggle to find ideas for stories or books but I do have to recognize which ideas are grand enough and worthy enough to spend time on trying to recreate outside of my head and which should simply be jotted down in my journal and laid to—perhaps permanent—rest.

In a perfect world, I would be able to find the time (and energy) to pursue all of my ideas. However, the limiting factors are many.

I have only a finite amount of time and enough ideas to keep me scribbling twenty-four hours a day without working at my day job, sleeping, eating or seeing my family and friends. Let’s even leave out the other activities that add depth and interest to my days, like reading, listening to music, surfing, exercising and watching TV. At the end of the day, I may have an hour or two to devote to writing, usually by giving up one of the last category of “lifestyle” activities. Even so, I end up writing several different stories and novels at the same time.

So why do I pick those one or two specific stories to write that day, out of a possible thousand?

The grand ideas are usually the most persistent. When I put them aside, they come back up to the surface of my mind with staggering persistence. I once left a story treading water for years before I put it down on paper. The wait was well worth it. The story had gained strength and agility by swimming around in my head for so long a time, until it emerged full formed and ready to take foot on land.

Rather than running with every idea that pops into my head, I wait for these stories. I know they will be worth it.

Photo courtesy of nuttakit at

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