Don’t ask writers where they get their ideas
The above quote, by author Saladin Ahmed, passed through my Twitter timeline today. I found it great and very apt.
I’ve never had any shortage of book ideas. My mind constantly comes up with ideas. Ideas are a dime in a dozen. I have ideas for contemporary romances; ideas for urban fantasy and paranormal romances – for the series I already write and for completely new worlds; ideas for historical romances and books with no romance in them whatsoever.
It’s actualising those ideas where it gets tricky.
Not every book idea I have leads to a book. Often it’s because I don’t have enough time to write it. I’ve tried to write two books at the same time, but both books suffer because of it and it takes longer to finish them than it would if I wrote them back to back. I’ve found that the best practise for me is to write the idea down, maybe write the first chapter, too, if it absolutely begs to be written, and then leave it be. If I still find the idea great when I have time for it, I’ll use it.
Occasionally, it’s the work in progress I have difficulties finishing. Even if the idea is great, the plot may be slow to come together. Or life intervenes. My house needs cleaning up, or Twitter proves irresistible. There are days when those other things take precedence and the book doesn’t get written as fast as it should. There are days that I simply don’t feel like writing. The first is a matter of organising and prioritising, the latter a matter of resting my mind or refreshing it by working on different projects for a while.
More important reason, however, why all ideas don’t become books is that that’s all they are: ideas. There isn’t enough story in them for a full book; sometimes not even for a novella. It’s not always evident so I’ve started books only to run out of plot midway through. Sometimes I don’t get even that far. Writing them isn’t the waste of my time, though. These ideas often find a new life as part of some other book.
You might think it’s a wonder that I get books written at all. Even if I don’t get distracted by life – real or imaginary – and the social media, writing can be slow work. Plot needs planning, sets require researching and just when I think I have everything covered, I get it into my head to start improving my writing.
So, don’t ask where writers get their ideas. They get them everywhere. How they get the books written, that’s the true wonder. But if I were you, I wouldn’t go around asking writers about that either. If the progress has been particularly slow, you may get a snarky answer. At the very least, proceed at your own risk.
Or, you never know, the writer might be glad for the chance to chat with you and not think of their book for a moment. Sometimes any reason is a good reason for not writing. So the book will be finished later rather than sooner; so what. At least it will be finished. Maybe.