There’s nothing more exhilarating than a new story idea. Better yet, there is nothing more exhilarating than starting to write a new novel. That is, until you actually start writing that new novel. Before you know it, you’re knee-deep in character arcs, intensive research, and tropes. About two hundred pages in, you realize you’ve forgotten why you started to write in the first place. You’ve forgotten the thrill of that first idea, that first hazy glimpse of what the story could be. It’s at this point in the writing process when it’s a good idea to take a step back and remind yourself why you wanted to write this story and what it means to you.
#1: THE “MEET CUTE”: This is how you usually find your ideas, right? You’re trying to sleep. The cool darkness of your room has lulled you into a semi-conscious state, where all brilliant ideas love to lurk, ready to pounce on your rather sleepy and unsuspecting brain as it initializes SLEEP MODE. You think you’ve turned off your creative juices at the tap, their supply depleted for the day. That slippery sleep is edging closer, closer—and then...Oh, why hello there. In a flash of genius, there’s that little spark of clever dialogue, an interesting character, or a tell-tale scene. Whatever it is, it’s brief, and oh so very tantalizingly faint. So you push sleep aside for the moment and delve deeper into that spark of literary light. Before you know it, it’s the wee hours of the morning, and you’ve developed an entire universe in your head for this wonderful idea.
#2 PLAYING COY WITH THE IDEA: Now that you have your story idea ingrained in your mind, you toy with the idea of starting the novel. Of course, you want to write it, but are you ready? Do you have the time to truly dedicate to this adventure? Yes, of course, you do! That’s when the idea of taking on this journey becomes terrifyingly daunting. Writing a novel isn’t all fun and games. It’s hard work. It’s dedication. It’s true commitment. Are you committed? Yes! So, You toy with ideas and muddle your way through an outline for weeks, delaying any actual work, any real written words for this story for as long as you are able. But the ideas just keep coming. There’s no stopping the wave of creativity.
#3 THE REAL DEAL AND THE DOUBT THAT COMES WITH IT: So, you start to write. And you write, write, write, and write. Your head begins to swim with ideas and grammar rules, the stuff of nightmares it seems at times. About two-thirds of the way into your story, and there you are, creatively stuck and mentally drained. You can’t go on. You don’t even know why you started. You take a break. Just a momentary pause, you tell yourself.
This moment right here is everything. All your hard work has come down to this final push when that little spark of an idea turns into an immovable fire. One you can’t ignore, because it was you who lit the match, you who watched it build into a flame, and yes, you who wants this flame to set fire to the world. Everything lies in your hands to finish brilliantly and to see this story through to its inevitable end. It just takes the belief that this story, this idea of yours, is worth telling, and every story truly is worth it. So, if you need to step back from your work for a while, that’s fine, but never forget that spark of inspiration that guided you to take this journey. It will always lead you down the right path.
Keshia C. Willi