Ben and I had a great idea for a book a little while ago. It seemed like it would be perfect, right up my alley. We decided we would make a plan for it, unlike the last book which was a bit of a free-for-all, so we sat down and worked it out.
We figured out the whole story, plotted the chapters and I was completely, terribly uninspired. It was confusing, because the concept was interesting, the characters were compelling, but my my interest in the book was painfully flat. I hated it.
There’s something about making a plan that makes me feel like I ought to like what I’m doing. Like I would be a flake if I just called a timeout and changed horses mid-stream. It’s a weird feeling. I guess it’s partially to do with the investment of time, we spent a great deal of time coming up with the story, discussing it, being excited about it. But as the idea of actually writing the damn thing drew near, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
In the end I finally said ‘I hate it’ out loud and we gave it up, put it aside. Maybe I’ll like it in the future, who knows?
When I’d finally accepted the fact that I didn’t give a fig about the book I was going to write, Ben and I went for a walk on the beach and worked out a new book in about half an hour and I was instantly inspired to go home and start writing. I am now ten thousand words in and going strong.
The point is sometimes things don’t fit and here’s a solid piece of advice that can be applied to absolutely every aspect of like (including writing): don’t settle. A story should reach out and grab you, bite you, shake you, gnaw at you in the night. I always say to Ben that I know it’s a good story when I get up in the morning and don’t want to go back to sleep because there’s too much to write. Writing should propel you, inspire you, make you cry and laugh and all those good things about living. If your story isn’t doing it for you, don’t force it. No matter how much time you invested in the outline or world or making a new language for the alien species on your world it doesn’t matter because it will feel flat and lifeless unless you love it with a passion.
I want to write things that I can’t wait to write more of, that I need to write, that I love to write and I’m not willing to settle for anything less.
Screw settling, write it like you mean it!
Tell me about a time when you refused to settle.