I love shiny things. I mean, who doesn’t? As an author, my favourite shiny thing is a new story idea just begging to be written. A shiny new story idea that is so good it doesn’t need any work done on it…it just needs to be written already. Words on the page, however bad they are. No matter how meandering the plot might be. No matter how shallow the characters might feel. Can you see where I’m going here?
Fast drafting a shiny new idea has been my process for the last four books I’ve written. I get a premise or a hook or a scene or a single character in my head and I just dive head first into writing the book. The characters appear along the way and eventually I find my way to ensuring there is a coherent plotline.
Each of these shiny books took me 3-5 months to draft and they’re good stories. People I trust and respect have told me that. But they’re not great, and more telling, they haven’t sold. So this time around, I’m trying something different. The premise for my latest project appeared in my brain way back in September and as of December 8, I have yet to write a single word of the story.
Instead, I’ve been sitting with the idea. Letting it percolate in my head. Working on in-depth character profiles. Diving deep on setting research. Writing a full synopsis that includes every little nuance of the story including the twists and turns and surprises.
I’ve also spent the last few months focusing on bettering my writing by re-reading great craft books like these ones and signing up for webinars. When I attended the Surrey International Writers Conference in October (god I love that conference), instead of going to sessions on revision tips or fast drafting, I picked sessions that focused on themes and hooks. Big picture things. Heart of the story things.
This story is now a living, breathing entity inside me. I know it will be the best book I’ve ever written. I’m confident it will sell and, more importantly, connect with readers. Not only because it’s a good premise with a good hook, but because by giving it time to sit inside me, it has depth and meaning. It is a story I need to tell. One I simply must write.
In today’s world, everything moves so fast that we often forget that the joy is found in the quieter moments. In the simple pleasures. We forget to take the time to enjoy the moment we’re in. It’s like that scene from The Office where Ed Helms’ character Andy says “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.” Ah, if only.
So my advice to you the next time you’re distracted by something shiny? Take it in, enjoy the feeling of something new and then…sit with it. Give yourself time to decide if this new thing, this new idea, deserves to become a part of you. If it is, give it the time it needs to reveal itself fully because I can tell you from experience, that’s where the magic happens. ❤️
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