By Chris Pepple, Writer-At-Large, Southern Writers Magazine
Have you ever had a great idea for a character or a plot, but you just couldn’t figure out how to move forward? When you tried to flesh out the details for a book, did you get stuck on some of the details or reach a dead end that you couldn’t move past? Did the dialogue fall flat? Did the plot weaken beyond repair? Did this frustrate you because you still like the original idea?
Sometimes just the opposite happens—we have a great thought and it keeps growing in our mind. Dialogue pops into our head when we’re showering or having coffee. Plot twists race through our minds at 3 a.m. when we can’t get up and do anything about it. We’re frustrated because we have other deadlines we have already committed to and can’t stop to work on a new project.
So, when do we just toss out these ideas? Never. Don’t let go of these gems that you’ve uncovered. Take a few notes and file them away in notebooks in your desk or in your closet (or in the many places writers stuff papers). No idea has to be tossed out too quickly.
“But I tried writing it,” you say. “I couldn’t finish it.” Then maybe the timing wasn’t right for where you are in life. You might need to take care of some unfinished business or research more before you can pick the project back up. You might need to turn the thought into a poem or a short story instead of a novel. Sometimes, our failure just means we need to learn a little bit more about the writing process through a class or seminar. Just because we aren’t ready to finish a project doesn’t mean the idea was bad. Revisit it later in life and see what happens.
The same holds true for a packed schedule. Just because you don’t have time to tackle a new writing project now doesn’t mean you won’t ever have time. Hang on to the thoughts and let them wait for you to unpack them when you have more time.
Never let go of a good idea just because the timing isn’t right. The characters will be waiting for you around the next bend.