Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Owning your ideas

I'm working on developing new ideas right now. Pulling out the idea file, parsing through them combining them, twisting them, trying to come up with my next project.

I  love this time. Usually. For most of my past books this pure creative development stage has been a joy. But it feels as if the more experience I get under my belt, the more pressure there is at this point. I hate thinking I'm being derivative or that the idea isn't big enough or interesting enough or deep enough. I know how much work and blood and sweat and tears it takes for me to do a book and so I want to feel confident that THIS IS THE ONE. (Even though I know it's impossible to know that.)

I started to read this post last week and it helped. It's titled "How to Steal Like an Artist". I need to go read it again. It is full of wisdom and words that make me feel better about myself. Nothing wrong with that.

But the other thing that's struck me while working on these new ideas is how important it is to own your ideas. Some people are better than others at taking someone else's idea and running with it. I'm not. I wish I was. Molly gave me a very cool idea on Saturday night when we were talking about our ideas. A twist on what I was doing that I hadn't thought of. But the more I try to expand on it, the more I try to imagine turning that idea into a story, the less it works for me. And it's a great idea. So here are the possible reasons why it's not sparking: 1) I'm dumb, 2) I'm too stubborn/proud to work on something that's not my idea, or 3) I can't make it come to life because I don't own it. It's possible, with more work and thought, I could own it. But I don't now.

I know another writer who has had this problem with a few books. At least that's my opinion of why she had problems with a few books. Stalling on coming up with her own ideas, she took sparks of ideas from others and then had a hell of a time forming them into her own story. Owning them.

So, I'm back to the drawing board, I think. Faking it until I make it. I hope.


8 comments:

Kathy Holmes said...

Having an idea and then implementing it can sometimes seem impossible. I'll spend time analyzing what a book needs to make it work - the idea sounds fabulous but then I can't quite implement it. I have to just sit there and have the answer flow out of my fingers. Yeah, why is that?

Sinead M said...

That is a great article... and sometimes you aren't ready to move on until an idea cements itself and you weren't ready on Sat. But you will be soon.

Eileen said...

Interesting. I tried to do a retelling of a much older story one time and it was very difficult to me. I thought it would be way easier. I mean, the structure was all laid out. It never felt comfortable, though. It got shot down for other reasons and, in some ways, I was a little relieved. What I did instead came from me and flowed much more naturally.

I want to go read that whole post. It looks fabulous.

Molly O'Keefe said...

One of the great things that Liz Gilbert said on Monday (sorry Eileen) is how patient creativity and the "big idea" are. It sits and waits and waits until the right moment when it just slips through the cracks in your subconcious - usually around the time when you stop forcing it.

And it is a perfect storm of being ready to for it, and being able to make it your own and being excited. It'll come Maureen.

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh and I freaking loved that link - loved it. great link - thanks for putting it up.

Eileen said...

ARRRGGHH! I have to choose between saying something snarky about Elizabeth Gilbert and being positive about the creative process? Help! Brain. Might. Explode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maureen McGowan said...

I'll help, Eileen. I've never seen her in person, but watched part of one of her talks on YouTube. She's a riveting speaker. Infectious. Compelling. But her "wait for it to come" thing. While I do think she's probably right, also smacks of an excuse to be lazy to me. Something successful artists or writers say to make what they do seem magic. And to cut down on the competition if it stops people from trying. How's that for contrarian? ;) Clearly, I am in a mood.

Eileen said...

Nice, Maureen! I appreciate you stepping up to the plate. ;-)

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