Monday, October 24, 2011

I Have...an idea.

People have thousands of thoughts a day- those synapses are constantly snapping together to form ideas. But only ONE out of a million will grow up to be nurtured and molded into a fully-formed story by our own hands.

But the question is: Which one?  And more importantly: Why? 
How and why do we choose to write the stories we write?

In my case, I’ll have an idea for a book every few days or so- usually when I’m driving.  If my enthusiasm fizzles out in the first ten minutes of daydreaming about the possible plot- I don’t usually bother retaining the idea.

If it doesn’t, and the story idea keeps coming back to me over the course of a few weeks- I’ll go as far as to write it down.

The bar usually stops there.

But then, every once in a blue moon, an idea will pop into my head that I just can’t seem to get rid of.  I’ll write it down but then different scene sequences and character details will keep invading my mind until the little story blurb I wrote down begins to grow.  I add details as they come- scenes, bits of dialogue, supporting characters...until I’m pretty sure I’ve got enough material for a rough outline.

I plan the plot, add what I’ve come up with so far and brainstorm the rest.

Then I start writing.

Of course- the manuscript inevitably takes on a mind of its own from there.  Sometimes I’m able to stick to the basic plot outline- sometimes the plot changes as new twists and turns present themselves, surprising me as though I were reading the book rather than writing it.

But the point is- I never brainstorm story ideas.  I write what I feel like reading when I feel like reading it- and so far the hot thrill of creating something from nothing always gets me through the process.

I’m writing this now because I was surprised this week with...an idea.  It’s one of ‘those’ ideas.  One of the ones I know isn’t going to go away until I write it and I’m excited about it!  What caught me off-guard, though, is that after I wrote and began querying FOSSEGRIM, I went through a six month drought.  I couldn’t write for the life of me- the querying process just sucked all my hope and creative energy down the drain. 

Which is why I’m really surprised by the rapidly growing book idea that’s haunting my days and nights.  I just finished KISSING FOR COFFEE in June and began querying it in August.  I was almost looking forward to a break between books and figured my creative juices would take awhile to restock. 

Alas, this book – another Romantic Comedy with a Paranormal twist- is demanding some attention.   

Which is why I’m thinking it might be a good time to give the National Novel Writing Month of November (NaNoWriMo) a shot.  I’ve always been too terrified to try.  But I figure the book idea is here and raring to go- What have I got to lose?  (besides time for sleeping, eating, thinking, and perhaps a good part of my sanity)

Anybody ever attempt NaNoWriMo?  Any advice?  How do you usually decide which ideas will become full-blown novels?

51 comments:

Em-Musing said...

I did NaNo last year and was surprised at what hurled out of my brain. Not this year though. I've got to devote my time to submissions. Good luck with NaNo! With all your creativity, it'll be interesting to see what you hurls out of you.

DL Hammons said...

The type of idea's your talking about, for me, have a certain weight about them. A substance. I know almost immediately if there is enough there to support a full-blown novel. However, idea's that fall in that category are few and far-between.

I know you'll get plenty of help about NaNoWriMo, because so many bloggers talk about it. Alas, it is not my cup of tea. :)

Jen Daiker said...

NaNoWriMo is amazing! You should definitely do it. It gives you a really great support system of friends and those trying to complete the same as you!

I love ideas. I write them down constantly. I have four that I'm working with now and I do the same thing you do, think about it, write it down, work it out. If at any point that idea becomes less than it is, I don't feel bad about throwing it out. After all if it isn't perfectly formed it won't do well.

How is the querying going? I know for my chick lits it's been really quiet! Hope you're having better luck!

Miranda Hardy said...

I'm doing it this year, too, because the timing is perfect. I don't have any advice, though, but I plan to aim for a daily goal.

Christine Rains said...

I've done NaNoWriMo every year since 2003. It's a wonderful creative rush. Give it a try! You'll get addicted. As for ideas, I'm like you. I get big ideas every few days, but a lot just fizzle out except those few that stick around to become novels. I'm a pantser, too, so I just go for it. No scribbling notes or anything.

Jennifer Groepl said...

I haven't done it before and would love to do it this year, but the timing is just super bad for me. My advice is to go for it and enjoy! That seems to be what it's all about. Take the pressure off and enjoy the process. :)

Gina said...

I wish I could participate in NaNo, but unfortunately I'm writing this comment well aware that I'm late for work, again. I just don't have time. I need more hours in my day for sure.

Anne Gallagher said...

I've tried NaNo twice but failed miserably. Too much pressure for me, but this sounds like such a great thing for you to do this year. Especially with an idea.
Go for it!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Make an outline and then go for NaNo! I did it last year and the result was CassaFire.

Jess said...

I'm such a commitment-phobe with my ideas. I pamper each on a little, write a few thousand words, but can never follow-through because another idea looks nice and shiny, so I go skipping over to it. If writers were girlfriends and ideas were boys, I'd be in serious trouble in terms of my reputation.

Suzanne Korb said...

I always write ALL of my ideas down, and save them for later.

Every time NaNo comes around, I'm already half way through a novel! lol

Marisa Hopkins said...

Good luck!! I love NaNo - it seems to be one of the only times I let my self write without sucking and not feel bad about it ... my internal editor goes on a much needed vacation :)

Slamdunk said...

I can relate. I am full of ideas, but implementation, whoa.

NaNo sounds like a great experience for you.

stu said...

I have to be careful with the ideas I commit to. After all, we're talking about months, if not longer, spent on it. Generally, I'll write down ideas, and work through how they might go, but it's when two or three have come along that seem similar I go with them.

J. A. Bennett said...

Good luck with Nano! I don't get ideas all the time so when one hits me I take it seriously!

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

i'm attempting nano for the first time this year, so i don't really have any advice as of yet.
but comraderie (sp?) that's what i can offer! :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love Nano! This will be my 7th year - I won each of the years I tried. Nothing gets the creative uices flowing for me like Nano. The key is to have fun with it and to not self edit.

Haven said...

I've heard NaNoWriMo mentioned SO many times. Definitely give it a shot! You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Good luck!

Old Kitty said...

Yay for your great idea aching to be your next novel!! GOOD LUCK!! Yay for exploring this with nanowrimo!!!

I get my best ideas whenever prompted! I think that's why I love competitions - they give me a framework (deadlines, themes, word counts..)! Yay!

Take care!
x

Hart Johnson said...

My book ideas seem to come to me much like yours do. After my FIRST, it had some vague ideas and tried to force a book, but since the second, the ideas have come at a much more steady rate.

And I say YES to the NaNoWriMo! I love writing that way--the adrenaline, comaradarie... it's fabulous! I did in first in 2009, and will probably always do it, unless i have an official conflict. My writing group does it again in June. Look for me: hartjohnson

Matthew MacNish said...

I've only ever read had one novel worthy idea. I've written several short stories, but none of them had ever seemed like they deserved a whole book.

Lydia Kang said...

Good luck on Nano. It's so great when a good idea gets a hold of you and won't let go!

Janet Johnson said...

I've never done NaNo. But go for it if you have a burning idea!

I'm like you, I write things down when I really like it, and then work on the ideas that won't let go. :)

Dawn Ius said...

You stop at writing the idea down? Nice! I usually write the first three chapters before I find a new shiny to write three chapters about. I love how ideas always generate, but I wish I had more time to pursue them all! Good luck with your new idea <3

Dawn Ius said...

PS, my NANO name is Jagger74. Want to be buddies?

Shirley Wells said...

I've never done NaNoWriMo but I've heard nothing but good things about it. I'm sure you'll love it. Good luck!

Karen Peterson said...

This will be my 6th time participating in NaNo and I'm excited. I sort of let it go last year, thinking I'd use the month to edit. But I didn't.

My advice is to take advantage of local write-ins and/or online forums. Putting together a group of participants will help keep up your motivation.

Johanna Garth said...

Like you, my book ideas sort of pop out of the ether. Right now I have one taht I can't wait to write but I have to finish the sequel to my book. The other part of having the idea is making yourself finish before you get swept off by another idea...which is my main problem.

Johanna Garth said...

Like you, my book ideas sort of pop out of the ether. Right now I have one taht I can't wait to write but I have to finish the sequel to my book. The other part of having the idea is making yourself finish before you get swept off by another idea...which is my main problem.

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm doing NaNo this year for the first time. Join me, we can be scared together :-)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yay! I think you should TOTALLY go for it, Katie!!! Good luck! :-)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year! Or at least, giving it a shot. I hope it'll work. :)

Nancy Thompson said...

I only learned about NaNo last year. And, no, I doubt I will ever participate. Cudos to you if you do though.

I'm envious of all your ideas!

LTM said...

oh, wow, that's exactly how it works for me. If an idea can't hold my interest, fuhgetaboutit. But I've never done NaNo. I was thinking about sort of doing it this year to complete one of the two MSs I have that are unfinished... but not officially b/c you can't do that.

Try it! And good luck! :o) <3

Laura Barnes said...

I'm the same way with ideas. I also write songs and I've found that if the tunes/lyrics I make up are still with me the next day, it means they want to be written. Same with books.

Hope to see you at NaNo! It's my first year :)

Kelly Polark said...

Good for you to go for it! It's my first Nano this year too!
Kissing for Coffee is a really cute title!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I have never tried NaNo, and I don't think it would be a good vehicle for me to write a novel. First off, November is report card/parent conferences month, so I have less time to write than any other time of year.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, I am constantly writing or revising something anyway. I hardly ever allow myself a day off, even though my writing often benefits from a break. (I'm just too stubborn to take one.) So, why put even more pressure on myself to get it done faster?

julie fedderson said...

I'm contemplating NaNo. I have an idea and I'd just like to see if I could do it in a month. I have cool ideas every day, too--it's making a cool story from said cool idea that is my nemesis.

Cherie Reich said...

NaNoWriMo is awesome! It'll be my third year. The key is to just write. :)

I know what you mean about ideas. The ones that keep coming up and building upon the world and characters are the ones I know would be good for a novel. I do like to have my ideas percolate for a while, though.

Jessica Love said...

I'm doing NaNo! I've done it once before and it was a lot of fun. :-)

Melissa Pearl said...

Good luck with NaNo.

LOVE getting new story ideas. Have fun!!!

Alleged Author said...

Manuscripts often take on a mind of their own. That's the fun! :P

JeffO said...

I did NaNo last year and it was immensely helpful for me in kick-starting my writing. As for tips? None, other than 'butt-in-chair', but that always applies.

Like you, I've got ideas that come and go all the time. I guess the ones that just really stick in my mind are the ones that I really work on.

Laura Pauling said...

Gotta love when they pop into your head! Go for it! :)

Angela Brown said...

NaNoWriMo newbie for 2011. First timer. I have no advice, just giddy energy and a story in my head that I'm excited about.

Your story idea couldn't have come at a better time. I hope you have a great experience if you choose to do NaNo.

Stephsco said...

Nano is only scary if you've never even tried to write a book. You're already many steps ahead. What you'll gain is the concept of dedicated time every day to write and reach goals. The Nano emails are extremely encouraging and frequently funny. The best resource for me was the little progress bar where I could track my word count. I'm competitive and it forced me to keep myself disciplined.

Plus, even if you "fail," it's not a failure. So you wrote 20,000 words instead of 50k. It's still progress toward a story. Go for it!

Stephanie Hayes said...

I did it once and totes cheated, slapping 10K of a work in progress into the web form. My friends yelled at me (rightfully) and I've been too ashamed to go back. Sad.

Caitlin said...

Oh man, I love NaNoWriMo! This is my 6th year participating. Even if you don't finish the experience is amazing. Hope to see that you participate this year!

Laura Marcella said...

Yay! This will be my third year doing NaNoWriMo. Find me at Sunshine21. I suggest that you have some kind of plan for your novel before you begin or you might get overwhelmed. Other than that, just write and have fun!!

Susanne Drazic said...

Have fun with NaNoWriMo and good luck with your story idea! This is my second year doing NaNoWriMo.

Carol Riggs said...

I get/develop ideas the same way! Best of luck and have FUN with NaNo!

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