Friday, March 9, 2012

Feed the (Metaphorical) Bears

Also known as, the Consequences of Waiting

Dearest bloggers, writers, friends. I'm struggling with a problem so strange that the only recourse seems to be blogging about it. Except I'm having trouble doing even that. I'm too impatient. Because, dear friends, my problem is that nowadays, when I have a creative idea--new website to design, new novel to write, new scene, new art, new anything--it comes to me fully formed. Plop! Like that. One adult idea, standing there looking at me and going, "Well?"

You may think this is not such a bad problem to have.

I have to agree. It could be a lot worse. I could have ideas that refuse to form, or I could have no ideas at all. This certainly isn't the worse thing that's ever happened to me.

But it still kind of sucks. Right now, my brain is like a small company that's getting more demand than they can handle; everyone is on the scramble all day, every day, and they're hiring and hiring, but they simply can't keep up.

Or, could you imagine a young couple that decides, hey, let's have a baby, and POOF! She's in labor. There isn't even time to get to the hospital. She's having the baby, and she's having it now.

This is what my writing life has been like. And heck, my life in general. I tend to be a slow writer, in the sense that I brainstorm a lot, let ideas gestate, tumble, grow. I explore them and prod them into different poses. And I like this part of my process. It allows me to manage my time, balance projects. I know that if I start brainstorming a novel idea on Thursday, that by Saturday, I'll be ready to write, and I'll be able to write all weekend. Then the well will dry up: I'll go through my week, get all my tasks done; start brainstorming again next Thursday.

That was my process.

Not anymore. Now, if I brainstorm on Thursday, thirty chapters plop into my lap, fully formed; I have to make a dash for my computer and write and write and write, but there's no way I'm getting it all down in time. Even at my fastest, 1,500 words an hour, it would still take me days of endless writing to get that all down.

And I don't have that much time. Everything is moving too fast. The next chapters are already plopping out, boom boom boom, and I happen to have class the next day. Also I have two part time jobs. Also I have school projects that need work. And then, horrendously, torturously, when I manage to wrench myself away from writing and turn to school projects, they have the audacity to begin popping out fully formed, too. There's no respite.

Doesn't it sound awful?

Agonizing, in the best possible way?

I really don't know what to do with myself. I'm seriously starting to wonder if I could scrape aside a few days and just pound out one of those novel ideas, get it all down on paper, so the darn thing would give me a break.

I guess my problem is not that I have too many ideas, or that they're forming too quickly; it's that I'm physically incapable of creating them as quickly as I need to.

One of the worst parts is, I know why this is happening. I have been working on MIRRORPASS for years. Years, I tell you. Years on one novel. Ideas have come and gone, come and stuck, come and niggled, but I kept plugging away at MIRRORPASS, shelving those ideas for later. They're plopping out "fully formed" because they already went through their gestation period--growing rather than incubating. And now they're coming out. Having my hard drive crash for a week was a bit of a tipping point, I think; being unable to work on MIRRORPASS, all the other ideas came torrenting to the foreground, shrieking, "Me, write me!"

they're terribly needy, novels.

And it's good thing. Okay? I'm really not complaining, I'm just stymied. But to all you people slugging through edits right now, let this be a warning to you: write something new. For goodness sakes, don't keep putting it off. That sign in your mind, the one that reads, "DON'T FEED THE BEARS"? That sign is plain wrong.

Try to avoid diving headfirst into a new novel, if you can, but you can likely keep it at bay with a few hours of attention here and there. Pass it a few animal crackers. Go feed the bears. In the case of creativity, they'll be much more patient if they're gaurenteed a cracker every now and then. Plus it keeps your writing muscles nicely toned for when you finish edits and prepare to start drafting again.

Please forgive my insane rambling. This was going to be a much more coherent post, but I discovered I was in too much of a hurry to write even that, so it devolved into the stream-of-consciousness beasty you see here. I'm counting on the fact that every writer feels a bit insane sometimes. Feel free to commiserate. Anyone else ever been overwhelmed by creativity?

Truly and always and bursting at the seams,
-Creative A

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