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Let It Go

I'm sure you've heard the comparison before: ideas for stories are just like seeds. We find the seed we like, we plant it in our minds, and then we do our best to nourish it to its maximum potential growth. 

Sometimes, the idea grows into a beautiful tree that bears luscious fruit to be hoarded in return for all that effort. But sometimes, (hell, probably even more times,) the idea grows into a shriveled mess of a thing that curls up to die before harvesting season can even be reached in the first place. It's because of this that the brainstorming process can be especially stressful--all you want is to come up with a seed that will stand against the test of time and bad weather. 

The seemingly obvious answer would be to take your time to sift through the seeds, but if you're under a deadline, either personal or one that's under contract, the pressure to come up with a good idea (that's also easy to get into work-wise) is pretty intense. Brainstorming suddenly becomes a little more stressful than before, despite all the exhilaration you want to feel at the actual endless possibilities.

I noticed recently that all my most frustrating brainstorming sessions started with me trying to make a certain idea that wasn't working, work. I'd feel wary at the thought of letting the idea go completely, because of how much time and brainpower had been put into it already, so I'd continue and continue to come up with obscure ways that would randomly make the whole thing click together and work as a full-length novel. But in the end, I was always left with the same glaring problems that held the idea down to begin with.

Every writer works differently, but for me, engaging in this process was a complete mistake. I would always come away from my brainstorming sessions feeling defeated by my own idea. The idea had become a thing of its own, instead of something that I put together myself and had complete control of. 

For me, that's usually a pretty good sign that it's time to

I'm so sorry don't hate me I had to do it I HAD TO DO IT

No, but seriously. The shining potential of a brand-spanking-new idea is too valuable to lose to a stubborn attempt at running with an older idea that just isn't working. Sometimes it's very easy to forget that when you're in the mental process of readying an idea for an outline or first chapter, you have the option to start over at any time. Ideas that are lingered upon do not have to become anchors--you can let them go at will and come away no worse off than before.

A strong foundation for your story will serve you (and your future readers) so much better than a weak one, no matter how much time you put into decorating the walls. I don't know how I got from seeds to walls, but there it is. 

Happy writing, friends. 

Amy Lukavics

Amy lurks within the forested mountains of Arizona. When she isn't reading or writing creepy stories, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and playing games across many platforms. She is the author of Daughters Unto Devils (Harlequin Teen 2015) and The Women In The Walls (Harlequin Teen 2016).

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2 comments:

  1. I have this problem, too. I've found, though, that if I take my "awesome" idea and try to write out the premise, then a description of the major plot points, I can figure out quickly whether or not the story will work. I've abandoned an idea simply because I couldn't come up with a good 2nd plot point. If the structure ain't there, the whole thing falls apart.

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  2. Ah, lessons from Elsa. ;) Definitely good things to remember when trying to mold a new idea.

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Item Reviewed: Let It Go Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amy Lukavics