My name is Michelle, and I am a hoarder.
Not of stuff, not so much anyway (though I do own a prodigious amount of brickabrack from my life which holds value only to myself, and probably is only clutter to anyone looking from the outside-in) but an idea hoarder.
I hoard ideas.
It’s a terrible mistake.
I get an idea for a blog post, or a story, or a pitch for an article. I know it’s good. It’s so good I know it needs to be read – people will *want* to read it, I will be proud to have written it.
And I immediately shelve the idea for another day.
A day when I have a larger audience, a better way to market myself, a novel published because publishing novels is the ultimate in ego reassurance, right? I shelve the idea, and most likely I’ll never touch it again, because now it’s precious – not only do I need to wait for circumstance to be right, but I must also make sure I write it well.
Which basically means it might (won’t) ever happen.
The funny thing about doing anything creative is that it makes more creative happen. Writing makes more writing, singing leads to more singing, cooking to more cooking. We grow, we learn, it gets easier to make more of the thing we’re doing because we’re already doing it.
We also improve; today’s best will one day be our worst.
What happens when we hoard ideas is the same that happens when we hoard anything. A closetful of clothing never makes getting dressed faster or easier – instead of simply choosing what is available for the day, we have to wade through all the possibilities and try on a hundred black shirts before finding the one that goes with the pants we just had in our hands – oh drat, now where did those get to?
If we have a backlog of things to write (or not), every time the magical combination of time and motivation come together, we must wade through the ideas, the old and new and the precious. We try them on, look through the tons of possibilities, and the dismay creeps around us like fog as we discard all the things that are too good for now, and probably too good for later.
More often than not, we end up writing nothing, or at least nothing of consequence.
Maybe we go buy another black shirt because we’re good at that.
The best gift we can give ourselves and our readers is to always go for it – even if we royally fuck it up in the doing. We can always try again. We can always do better next time – it’s just words. Hells, I wrote about this same idea back in 2012.
The lesson must be re-learned. We must practice doing better so we can get better. We can write thousands of mundane, safe things and get really good and mundane and safe.
Or we can always take that good idea and do it. Do it badly, do it well, do it miserably so it haunts your dreams. But do it anyway.
No more ideas shelf.
And no more black shirts – we all know we have enough.
4 thoughts on “Writing Mistakes: Hoarding Ideas”
Reblogged this on 12 Novels and commented:
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I’d say you used plenty of your ideas during your 12 Novels project Michelle. Non-writers also have lots of ideas but we are the ones that give them life -some of the time anyway 🙂
You are absolutely right.
You can never have enough black shirts … on the other hand, having just located a notebook from when a friend and I entertained each other with working out stories together that were never shared with anyone else, the one thing I took away was the name list … That will help me out somewhere when I can’t for the life of me figure out what to name that devastating Scandinavian I just thought up… LOL. Other than that, ideas are things that come and go at will. If it’s really worth writing, it’ll show up again on its own.