Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Write that!

Anyone who has ever attempted to write a story or a book, or even an essay, understands how hard it is to talk about what your are writing.  I imagine that people working in other art forms will have this type of issue as well.

You start off either flying by the seat of your pants and hoping you will be able to construct a loose plot as you go, or you go into the project with an outline and character descriptions and entire worlds created on scrap paper and stick with a tight story arc.

I have tried writing both ways, and believe me, they are equally difficult. 

But regardless of the method I choose to follow on a project, I find that I am always hesitant to share much of my ideas with others.  I don’t know if it is an underlying fear that they will tell me the whole idea is stupid, or if I will find that in stating the details out loud that I will tell myself it is stupid.  (Nothing like killing a story before you ever write a word!)

Whatever the reason, I have found that stories tend to lose some of their magic the more they are hashed out over coffee or dinner. Plot twists that seem interesting in your mind but are not fully formed, seem less plausible when spoken aloud.  And characters, fully fleshed out in your writing but shared too soon, become flat and dull.

No, I tend to suffer in silence as my story unfolds, worrying over details and character flaws by myself, and hoping it will all come together at some later point.  Once written, my husband is the first to see my stories.  For better or worse, he is stuck with that task.  🙂  At that point, I am open to discuss plot, character, setting and so on until every loose end is seamlessly weaved into the story.

At the start of NaNoWriMo a few years ago, a fellow writer posted this link to a very funny Mitchell and Webb Youtube Video.  I think this is the reason I keep my stories to myself until they are on the page.  Too many ideas thrown about (or not) will cause my muse to run screaming for a dark corner where she will curl into a fetal position and rock back and forth until the helpful advisor leaves the room. 

Tell me if you have ever gotten this kind of “help” with your writing!

16 Comments

  1. I can COMPLETELY relate to this! A few weeks back I wrote a post on blog about publicizing writing goals, and so forth…and my conclusion is, that no, I won’t do it. I think the same deal applies for discussing my novel, and its plot with others. It’s hard to summarize any work of literature, because there are so many layers. I dread the question, “what’s your novel about?” UGH!

    • The biggest obstacle in my writing so far was trying to summarize the whole thing as a pitch in a query letter! And people who ask what your book is about always say, “you know what you should write? You should write about…..” My response is “that sounds like a great book for YOU to write!” 🙂

  2. Yvette Carol

    I did a workshop on writing for children with the very great NZ author Joy Cowley last year Cheryl. She said you should never share your story before it’s finished, because it turns the trail cold. I think it takes the magic out of it. But, talking about it after you’re finished can be just as tricky. I was at a family party on the weekend. I started telling my nephew about my story, started out well at first and the light was in his eyes, then I began to sort of waver, and I saw the light switch off. I’d lost him. It’s a fine balance to be walked!

    • I know what you mean about losing magic. The second I see that light falter in the listener’s eyes, I start to doubt the entire premise of my story!

  3. That’s hilarious! I never had trouble with plot because I write about my actual life, but you know… it’s still funny, that video clip. People always have strange thoughts and comments about your writing anyway.

    • That video made my first venture into NaNoWriMo easy! It just wiped away all the pressure I had put on myself. 🙂 I knew that if all else failed, I could always make my character fall in love with a pebble, a shark, a policeman, or none of them!

  4. Hi Cheryl, I awarded you with the Fabulous Blog Ribbon award. Go to my blog to check out the details!

  5. This is EXACTLY what I do. It loses its dazzle and deep emotional pull on me if I start blabbering on about it too soon. Especially if I haven’t written it down anywhere or developed it.

    • Hi Daphne! It is so nice to hear it is the same for other writers. I find too that if someone starts rattling off a bunch of ideas that I should work into my plot, the self-doubt creeps in and I start to think my original ideas are not any good.

      • Yes, and that always feels so strange. Its like – hey, you know I have to write what I’M passionate about, right?

  6. I can relate to this! And yes, my husband has the task of reading my work as well. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by! That video always gets me smiling no matter how frustrated I am on a project. 🙂

  7. Hi Cheryl, I’m a new follower to your blog so will be reading through in time. However, this particular piece has me chuckling…I never know where my stories will lead me so trying to talk to someone about them is a mute point. Once I am in the midst of the story I may divulge small parts to favored people but on the whole until it is finished it stays a secret between me & my muse. If I let outside forces trifle with it my characters will abandon me and the story will disappear…so I keep faithful until the end.

    • Welcome Mandy! Glad you found my little corner of the world. 🙂 I completely agree with how the story disappears if you let others start putting in their two cents before it has simmered long enough!

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