Just the other day I had the urge to pull up an idea that I hadn’t even looked at in over two years. Like many writers, I write down any idea that pops into my head. Some are more formed than others, but most are just a summary or few paragraphs. This particular idea was a bit more than the others. I had an opening scene and a decent background summary on the main character. I don’t know where the motivation to open up the folder came from, but reading that dusty idea caused this unreal feeling to wash over me. I can’t describe it any other way except that she was speaking to me. Like I was her conduit to the world. My character grabbed a hold of my mind and the story just poured out. In the space of an hour I was able to write the arc of the story and get out some more detail of her backstory.
This may not seem like a big deal on the surface. I’m sure there are plenty of writers that are able to work out the basic beginning, middle, and end of their story in a reasonable amount of time. Not me. I have never been one to figure that out for any of the ideas that have popped into my head. Never. In the past ideas will pop in, I’ll jot them down, and stare blankly at the words with no clue where to go.
I have heard of writers describing the feeling of their characters or ideas speaking to them, begging them to tell their story, but I hadn’t experienced it myself. Kinda seemed like a fancy “I’m totally a real artist guys. Really, I am! Look at this magical wonder I’ve plugged into.” kind of thing to say. Even reading Big Magic with Elizabeth Gilbert describing the process of an idea stopping by to see if you are up for the challenge; I didn’t get it.
But I think my dismissal was rooted in something a bit more scary. I finally acknowledged at one point that maybe I wasn’t cut out for it. I’ve always wanted to write fiction but I began to put more stock in the thought that maybe it’s not for me. I switched gears to writing more personal experience and social science articles and blog posts.
But the other day…that feeling…
I’m more excited and inspired to write than I ever have been. I can’t stop working on this story. I’m quite surprised I took the time to write this, now that I think about it. It may never get published and no one outside of a select few of my family and friends will ever read this story, but I could care less. Simply the feeling of building the world and watching my character come to life is unlike anything I have done before.
So to all of you that have become discouraged, please keep going. Keep thinking and writing and building your ideas as they come. We owe it to our characters to give it our best shot to get their stories out. Even if we’re the only ones who read them.