Anonymous said: I always get an idea but then never want to write in it after I've done quite a bit of world building. Even if I've written a passage beforehand I can't ever continue. Any advice?
Can you identify what it is that stops you? There might be any number of solutions depending on the broader problem.
Problem: You’re not sure where to go from here. Maybe the worldbuilding is sound, but you have no plot. Or, you have a plot, but it took a hard left out of the outline a while ago and now you’re directionless.
- Possible solutions: If a lack of a “road map” bothers you, spend some time making a new one. Make several, and see which trip you like best. Even if you only end up writing one, writing an outline of things that would never, ever happen can be a great way to get yourself moving creatively.
Problem: You’re bored with the idea. The idea was awesome while you were writing it down. Now that you have it all out on paper, it doesn’t look as impressive. It’s not fun anymore.
- Possible solutions: Enlist a friend to listen to you talk about the story. Explaining an idea to someone else is a bit like selling it: tell them why the idea is great and why they should like it. This can jumpstart your creativity and remind you why you got started with it in the first place. Alternatively, give the idea a little space. Stick it in your sock drawer and pull it out on laundry day in a few weeks/months/years. Come back to it after you’ve had some time to think about other things.
Problem: It feels like too much. This idea started out really, really well… but then the worldbuilding kicked in and you saw that the plot has more potholes than a cheese grater. You have no idea where to start.
- Possible solutions: Take it one thing at a time. Any project can feel daunting when you first start. Divide your story into scenes, chapters, or sections, anything to break it into smaller, more bite-sized pieces. Start with the bricks—eventually, you will have a castle.
Problem: You’re stuck. The muse has abandoned you and you find yourself staring at that vast white expanse of your blank paper/document with no ideas. What the hell, muse?
- Possible solutions: Metaphorically deck your muse right in their ungrateful face and write something. This can be rough, but sometimes the best cure for writer’s block is to pretend you don’t have it. Latch on to something you like about the idea and wax eloquent about it for a few pages. Give the most in-depth description of every single nuance of a character arc. Do something—inspiration may well follow.
Problem: There’s that one part. Everything was going so well, but then you hit… that part. The part you hate, the one you absolutely do not want to write for whatever reason. You aren’t in the mood, your research is lacking, something is stopping you from going forward.
- Possible solutions: Skip it and move on. Come back to it later, when you have a fantastic writing day and feel like nothing can stop you. You are the writer, and you can write whatever part of your story you want to, whenever you want.
Problem: You’re afraid it will suck. You have such a great idea, and this amazing and wonderful idea is the greatest thing ever, and what if you aren’t a good enough writer to pull it off? What if your skills aren’t good enough to do this idea justice?
- Possible solutions: Don’t sit around thinking that someday you will emerge from your cocoon a fully-fledged writer-butterfly, and that only then are you allowed to write good things. Remember, the first draft of anything is going to suck. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your skill can be defined in levels, or that there is a definitive final stage of writerly excellence. There is no “good enough.” You will always be good enough.
Problem: It just isn’t working. Your idea was amazing in your head, but trying to commit it to actual words isn’t clicking. For some reason, you can’t seem to get the plot into gear.
- Possible solutions: Sometimes, an idea falls flat and we cannot identify why. This is ok, it does not mean you failed. It might mean you need to do some research, it might mean you’re a little burnt out and need a break, it might mean that this idea really isn’t going anywhere. In any case, it’s always ok to set an idea aside. Whether or not you ever come back to it is up to you.
Read all sorts of different stories by all sorts of different people who are nothing like you, they help you fill in the missing parts of your map.