Starting Is Easy

Ideas are even easier.

There’s a lifecycle to writing a novel. A spark of inspiration gives you an idea; the idea gives you a starting point, and then you just keep writing (outlining along the way if that’s your preferred approach) until you get to the end.

That’s the ideal, anyway. It doesn’t happen like that.

At each stage, there’s a 90% die off. Novels have to go through their own Great Filter, and most of them won’t make it. I’ve got hundreds of ideas, dozens upon dozens of first pages, and then a progressively smaller and smaller number of partially-written books, partial drafts, nearly-finished works.

Sometimes, it’s obvious that a book isn’t going to work. The idea isn’t strong enough to sustain the story past that first page, or it peters out after a few thousand words. Or circumstances change, and what felt right and fun and in alignment with my mindset is suddenly ill-fitting and clumsy and just straight-up wrong.

(Or you find out that someone else has already written a very similar book to the one you’re working on,  and even though you know the execution will be very different, it still saps your drive.)

Sometimes, however, you’re not sure. You’re too close to the book, so you can’t be sure if it’s inherently flawed, or if it’s something you can fix with enough work. So, you’ve got to decide if the limited amount of time and energy you have should be spent on this book or if you should jump to one of the other shiny ideas.

The Gutter Prayer – I gave up on that for months, and stalled on it again later on. I know I can make it work if I choose.

I recently started another piece; it’s past the first page, past the first chapter, and now that initial burst of enthusiasm is faltering. I’m going to push on for the moment, and we’ll see if it thrives, or if it perishes despite hothousing it.

Starting’s easy; finishing is hard.

I’ll keep you informed.

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