Pic: Kyle May Flickr
Have you ever heard the tale about how African hunters catch monkeys? Supposedly, they place narrow-necked jars with a banana or nuts insid, and monkeys come along and reach inside to grab the food. Only, with their fists clenched they can’t pull their hand back out. They’ll stand there hour after hour trying to get that food out and they get themselves captured.
I’d like to compare that to writers who won’t let go of their “fantastic ideas”. If you read any advice book on writing you’ll probably see this idea. Almost every expert says to throw out your first, fifth or twentieth idea because it’s not good enough. I think every beginning writer needs to face this head on.
Sometimes we hold to an idea too hard and we don’t let the story flow.
Sometimes we try to change EVERYTHING else to accommodate this fantastic idea instead of tossing in the towel and realizing it’s just not working. This isn’t the story I’m supposed to tell. It hasn’t marinated enough, I don’t have enough life experience, my skills are not up to par to tell this story like it needs to be told.
If I’m being honest, this is one of my worst writing weaknesses. I always feel like I’m giving up what could of been “the” idea. The one that would birth a book that would propel me to stardom and ultimate success. I do think some ideas are better than others but they usually aren’t the first round ideas or even the twentieth-round ideas. I’ve been working on this WIP for over a year (which Stephen King would say it’s about time to shelve it and move on. Hold on, Steve.) and it has evolved SO MUCH from the original idea. Instead of a limited third-person female view of a ghost story, it’s become a 2 person narration of an epic fantasy. Go figure. It’s taken longer than it should, I know I’m a slower writer and that I’ve really learned a lot along the way. But once I was able to let go of those ideas that were actually holding me back, the story had room to evolve and breath and come to life as it’s supposed to
Have you had an experience where you had to get out of your own way? How do you (and I) overcome it?