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I would like to have that problem, but most times, that’s not the case.
Now that’s not to say that I never have any ideas at all—like most writers, I keep an ideas list and jot down snippets or a character or scene or premise as it comes to me. But most of the time, out of the many scribblings I put down, I’ll pull out maybe one or two lines to explore further. And after that exploration, more times than not, I’ll decide it’s not strong enough and move on.
For me, coming up with a novel-worthy idea takes time. A lot of it. Oftentimes I’ll brainstorm something for days, then decide it’s not strong enough. Or I’ll brainstorm, love the idea, start writing it and immediately realize it’s not going to work. Or I’ll brainstorm, love the idea, start writing it, and lose interest a few thousand words in.
All are scenarios that happen pretty frequently while I’m working. I have loads of documents and notebooks full of what I call explorations—partially baked ideas that I tried out, then lost interest in.
Very rarely will I come up with more than one novel-worthy idea at the same time, or even within a couple weeks of each other. And as scary as it is sometimes, particularly when I’ve started querying and I’m blindly grabbing at ghostly wisps of an idea, I’m ok with it.
Part of me wishes it was different—I would love to have a folder of ready-to-go novel ideas so I could jump right into a new idea after finishing one. But that’s just not the way I work, at least, not right now. Everyone’s process is different, and it’s ok.
But I won’t lie—sometimes I finish a book and start querying and a part of me wonders if I’ll ever come up with a good idea again. Sometimes I’ll scrap idea after idea and a little panicky voice whispers this is it. You’ve run out of good ideas.
But the thing is, I’ve been through that frustrating between-WIP stage enough times to know it’s not true. Sure, sometimes it takes longer than I’d like, but inevitably the ideas do develop, the characters start to come alive, and a new story forms.
And every time it does, I smile smugly at that panicky part of myself and get to work.
That’s my process—now I want to hear from you: do you generate several ideas at once? Or do you take more time to develop an idea?
What is your book idea generation process like? Join the discussion at @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)
Do you have loads of book ideas, or does it take you longer to generate them? Join the discussion. (Click to tweet)