Saturday, August 27, 2016

Laura C asks:

Laura C asked:

Writers: How do you stick with one idea?

A good way to reason with this question is to ask the opposite.

How do I deal with so many ideas?


I have tons of ideas and always write them down when possible. It can be overwhelming if you are a real idea generation person, I know. 

There is a simple method for working with thought topologies like ours. The value is described by a quote from Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code - a book every creator should read and use. 

"The most important work of art you will ever create is the architecture of your own talent."
In other words, putting to practicum, create an information architecture and populate the data topology with your ideas. 

Now tossing around words like topology and information architecture sounds like big words and a big job, but it's not. 

A solid platform to build your talent architecture on is good old Excel. The topic you write under are the columns, and the ideas you have under those topics are the rows.
Simple as that.
Here is where it gets a little more challenging, and it heads toward mental mastery - something every thinking writer ought to work on. 

If you are professional and dedicated to developing this master mind map (all the things you creatively think about and the things you think about them) some patterns are going to emerge. Sheer numbers of entries will show you the things you are thinking about the most. An outline of a novel, short story or film script can begin to emerge. 

It doesn't have to be so format specific yet - you are trying to develop the idea fully as possible before you arbitrarily choose a format to finish it in.
This arbitrary format choice is a big impediment, and effects the creative process as well as the creative industries and it's purpose, the creative economy. A writing competition is a good example. 

A publisher who arbitrarily chooses the word count of the story competition may be making that decision based on the amount of pages they have to fill for the publication printing run may be imposing rules on something that does not obey rules by design - creativity itself. Yeah, your faculty has properties you must obey.

Your story, whatever format or length, is going to require as many or as few words as it takes to tell it. This is keeping it true and natural to you the person doing the work. 

You generally find out how many words you really have when you are done with the editing process long after the creative process has moved from the composition stage to the refinement stage. 

Your work is as unique as your creativity and talents, and will produce the work in final form that fits the idea you developed to begin with. To sit down and say, "I'm going to write a 5000 word short story" before coming up with an idea and fully fleshing out it's development before beginning manuscript mechanics methodologies is kinda putting the cart before the horse in the authentic writing process. 

What you (and they - the industry) are doing by being arbitrary in your choice before doing the essential creative work is hobbling chances of both the creative side and the business potential side of doing this kind of work. They are also thinking about attention span and examples of successful work from the past, but it is your audience and you have to think more than the publisher about them than they do.

This is not a good way to approach development consistent with your ideals within a given domain of creative thought. Because the experts in the domain are going to be the judge of your work, not the economic view of antiquated approaches to the publishing industry. 

BTW, it's the publishing business that taught Hollywood how to screw writers. So I am definitely waving the self publishing flag or rare indie (which is the old industry at small scale wearing a beret and doing little more than that to advance culture, which is really what being a creator is all about) publishing house with values aligned with an author. 

So by populating the IA with everything that comes to you over time on a project you want to turn into a manuscript will help you outline, treat and finally tell the true form of the story the way is was supposed to be according to you, the creator, not some publisher or agent who is thinking in terms of dollars and distribution limitations. 

What this method does for you also is it helps you round out what you are really thinking about creatively, instead of what you think you are thinking about creatively, which isn't something you can just carry around in your head. You are just fooling yourself if you think you can. 

One of the oldest adages in screenwriting is, "If you can't write it down; you don't know it." 

You are dealing with creativity, not intellectual prowess here. It's a whole different animal, and requires different treatment. It can't tell time, so if it is working on a story for you, and the end is not coming,you are *not* suffering from the ancient myth of writer's block - you are just waiting for creativity to do its job and work out the problem for you. 

Creativity traded off the genetic ability to distinguish temporal events (like the passage of time) for the other incredible abilities it possesses - such as coming up with great ideas out of nowhere. 

There are other attributes and characteristics of the creative process you have to professionally and processively account for in the practice of the writing craft in order to get more, do more and better work that are too numerous to mention here. 

But the major benefit of the IA of your talent is this: it gets you to a place where you know where you are really heading developmentally as a creator, and helps you avoid wasting time on things that are only minor works (not that you can't cut your teeth on minors works; in fact it could be essential for honing your work that will be your best a decade from now) but also, and more importantly, wastes time. 

You have to write for yourself first, and then for your audience, and the way to that audience is by starting with writing what you know, but leaving that behind and writing eventually what you are becoming. 

Every writer knows that 90% of what they write will eventually end up on the cutting room floor so to speak, so this method cuts away a lot of crap you could be intellectually tail chasing for years while your best work waits in the wings. 

Waiting in the wings is not something creativity likes to do. When it's done in the back of your mind, bring it up and transcribe it. Trust me, it will be busting into your time with regularity if you are honestly connected to the process.

Like a disciplined Spartan warrior (they don't called them artistic disciplines for nothing), if you know what is good for your creative talents and your career potential you will maintain this discipline. 

I spent three years working on a story off and on about one of the greatest writers of all time and had to round file it because the logic ultimately did not support the question I was trying to creatively answer. 

So the reasoning behind the IA is you want to eliminate what captures your fancy, which is just artistic vanity, and gets you to the stuff you were meant to write because it resonates in your bones it is the meaningful thing you must be working through and producing as a finished manuscript. 

Getting the meaning into your creative work and getting the self enchantment out, or the easy road mediocre work elevates you as a human being as well as a market potentially competitive creative talent. 

Letting go of the little darlings is tough, I know, but if you have ever had to kill off a character and shed a tear over it as part of practicing this craft of literary artistry, then you have an idea about how letting go can mean moving forward to where you are really supposed to be. 

And where you want to be is the best writer you can be writing about things that are the most meaningful things to you. That is your semantic major POV, your body of work and your groove all in one. 

The creative life is one of the richest (in terms of internal rewards) lives a human being can lead. You walk on clouds, your heart is light and your mind is a creating machine with a purpose. Now, that's fulfillment you can take into your golden years with genuine satisfaction. 

Sometimes writers are too concerned with mental machinations only proving addiction to the clever, public profile and social status and financial considerations to ever really get beyond the prolific, topical formulaic talent trap. 

But having lived a long literary life, I have learned there is one kind of writer every rich and famous writer wished they had become. 

An important one. One great writer once said,"I think for ten years and then I write for one."

So ask yourself, what is important to you, and, table that data in the appropriate category. Don't be surprised if with the passage of time, life experience and creative discovery you find out that what was important to you then really isn't important now. 

Then you will discover one of the greatest courageous acts a human can do no matter what walk of life they come from. 

And I will close with an old Bronze age Spartan warrior quote to illustrate this point. 

"A brave man may face death and ruin, but he will run from change." 

Later, Laura. 

The Lone Comic TM 
Defender of Creativity and Entertainment SM
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