forcing the issue

I claim that I can’t “force” a story onto the page until it is ready to be written. I’m sure you see that for the bogus rationalization it is.

Sure, my stories do need to accumulate critical mass before they will fall together, and I’m often still finding things that fit perfectly in stories long after I’m sure they’re finished, but too often I use these parts of my process as a way to not put out the effort of actually writing. Rather than sweat blood by typing words onto the screen, I assure myself that I need the story to “cook” longer, and I make a blog post instead.

Not so right now though. I’ve had a story idea, which I’m tentatively calling “Superman,” knocking about in my pointed little head for a while. I’ve been accumulating notes for it, bits of dialog, ideas for development, and such in a Word file, as is my usual practice. ¬†And vigorously avoiding the actual writing, which is also my usual practice. Not any longer.

Despite not have a clear direction for the story’s development, I’ve been writing it. “Forcing” it out of my head and onto the screen. I’ve managed to put down more than a thousand words of this unformed story, which seems like a good thing. Actually, it’s helped me see my way through the mess of ideas and half-thought thoughts to a coherent story. The train may still derail, but at least I can see the tracks.

And I’ve found something else. In that Word file of notes and ideas for this story are a bunch of notes and ideas that no longer fit, but they do look like a coherent set of materials for a another story. It’s a story idea that’s been knocking around in my brain a little lately as well. Actually, it was never much more than a clever (if a little bit naughty) title, but all of those spare notes for “Superman” dovetail with it nicely, and I’m beginning to see the critical mass for it coalesce as well.

So my writing-avoidance rationale has doubled down on me. By not writing but merely making notes, I’ve accumulated enough notes for two stories that I need to write. I suppose it’s time to get back to work, right?

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4 Comments on “forcing the issue”

  1. Annam Says:

    I love how everyone’s writing process is so different. I usually have some thoughts in my head about a story or chapter, but I find when I write, the characters take on a life of their own and hardly ever follow my original intention.


  2. Before finally falling asleep last night, I read an interview with Haruki Murakami. He talked about how he just sits down and writes. No idea where he’s going. “Hey, this character is dead, now,” and no idea who did it until he writes it.

    I tend to lean more that way than planning (I don’t know how the current book I’m writing ends), but I still plan some along the way. And then when I figure things out, I think about them quite a bit. (I’m sure Murakami does, too.)

    I DO tend to let things cook in my head a bit before writing, but by “cooking” it’s more like a bubbling where I’m excited to write — not necessarily that I’m actually ready to write.

  3. Averil Dean Says:

    I’m too impatient to let things percolate. I get an idea, I rush off to write it. Then of course I have to undo the damn thing and start over, because I haven’t put enough effort into thinking it through.

    Speaking of which, I have some undoing to do. Goodnight and good luck.


  4. Even those stories I’ve already completed, I find myself cannibalizing from an old (unpublished) one to use for a new one. It’s an economical way to use ideas and words.

    I do like to let things “cook” for a bit, but that’s generally between rewrites. I write as it comes, and then go back and add ingredients…

    Not sure we’re ever truly ready to write. But we do it anyway, just like we need to cook dinner.


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