I was reading some writing prompts on another website and I realized I’ve never had to use writing prompts. I wonder if I am odd or if there are more people like me. My problem is too many ideas and too many ongoing projects. I usually jot down an idea if it comes to me and then try to beat it away. It can be hard since it keeps wanting to come back. I think I have said here before that I have creative procrastination and come up with other ideas to avoid writing what I should be writing (or avoid editing, which I am doing now by posting this). My husband is good at knowing this and reminds me. “This is creative procrastination,” he says when I start on something new. He calls me out every time.
Still, those ideas, those interesting characters in precarious or sad or funny situations, beckon me. They call out to me while I am making supper and whisper “maybe I could say ‘no’ to him instead of ‘yes’, how would that make things interesting?” They give me lines I have to run and write down because I know from experience that if I don’t write them down, no matter how certain I am that they will stick in my mind, no matter how many times I repeat them, they will be lost if they are not recorded somewhere other than my scattered brain. And once the line is written down, the writer kicks in, the one that follows one line with another then another, and I know I have to write down a couple of other lines and then some notes on possible things that could happen later on. (Possible because I don’t know–I don’t outline, could never outline, it would take away all the fun of finding out where the stories go, of the twist I never saw coming that takes me somewhere I hadn’t ever thought of.) Soon, this new story seems fresh and new and full of potential. The one I am editing or the one with a couple of hundred pages already written seems stale. I just know that if I could start this one story, I could finish it quickly, do one of those complete novels in ten days where your pen cannot stop writing, I hear about from time to time.
But I know the truth. I know that in a month or ten, another idea will come, promising a perfect and magical story, taunting me with all the possibility the unknown and new can bring. So I beat away the muse then try to gently ask it back to help me with the task at hand. When writers say writing is hard work, I think this is what they mean. It is not getting the ideas. It is wrestling the muse to go where you want it to go while asking it to take you somewhere new within the confines of that story. It is sticking with it and rewriting and seeing it through, no matter how many prospects whisper in your ear.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just have to jot down an idea for a great story that just popped in my head. Just one line, mind you, then I’ll get back to my editing. No, honest, I will.