I’ve had a story idea incubating in my head for a few years now, and I think I’ve finally figured out how to write it.
Cue sigh of relief.
I originally had the idea a few years ago. I immediately sat down and starting writing, but hit the wall after two pages. So I set it aside for a few months, then came back and tried again. Same result. So I set it aside for a few months…well, you get the picture.
Getting stuck on a story isn’t anything new, but what was most frustrating about this particular story was the fact that I knew it was good, or at least had the potential to be good. I could even see the basic arc framed in my mind. I just couldn’t get beyond the opening. Five hundred words, then BAM, the brakes lock up.
So I finally said “screw it” and filed it away in my “In Progress” folder. But even though the story was out of sight, I continued to think about it. At odd times it would stir and peek out from the depths of my unconscious mind. I’d notice it moving about back there, but I still couldn’t see beyond that damn wall.
Over time, I realized that I was missing something. The story was there, but I was overlooking some important aspect, some trigger that would collapse that blockage and let me push through. I tried different things, like changing the character names, their ages, the POV, but nothing clicked. I even tried beating my head against the wall, but that only resulted in a minor headache and paint chips embedded in my forehead.
As the saying goes, persistence pays off. Two days ago the story again popped back into my mind, so I opened the old files to look over what I had written. As I read and re-read through the drafts, I began to feel a light flickering on in my brain. It was there, the answer, almost within reach…
Then I had it.
I pulled out a fresh spiral notebook, grabbed a pen, and began writing. I had found my answer…it was there in front of me the entire time. The problem – or MY problem – was that I was trying to write in a straight-forward, generic way. I wasn’t being creative. It was like I had regressed to some early story-telling phase and forgot to push the envelope.
Basically, I was writing from point A to point B. Nothing exciting, nothing creative, nothing to capture the imagination. Because of this, I wasn’t pulling myself into the story. I was boring myself. I realized that’s what I was missing.
So now I’m rethinking it. The basic premise is the same, but now I’m going to have fun with it, see if I can put my characters through the wringer, twist them up, sprinkle in a little madness, betrayal, excitement.
It’s interesting to note how we can get so focused on seeing something a certain way that it clouds our judgement and our ability to see other perspectives. We just have to remember to push ourselves to think differently, to try something new, to explore the unknown. That’s where true creativity comes from.