The Trigger-Happy Writer



I suspect most of us have done it, gotten so excited about an idea that we've killed its chances by presenting it before it's had the chance to fully develop. We might talk it to tell with a spouse or critique partners, show a clumsily-sketched thumbnail to an agent, or pitch prematurely to an editor. Or we might rush a proposal or even a full manuscript to submissions before it's been properly vetted and honed to sleek perfection.

Caught up in our enthusiasm, we squander the magic and give away our fire. I know, I've been very guilty of this on more than one occasion. Very recently, in fact.

Yet there's a balance to be sought. At times, it's very helpful to consult with touchstones who can offer bits of wisdom to help you shape the emerging story. And you can certainly err on the side of playing things too close to the vest and failing to allow the light in, or holding onto material so tightly that you never actually manage to get your work submitted.

Since I tend to jump too quickly, I'm recommitting myself to patience and getting back to work. Because any fool can sit there whipping out ideas. In the end, it's really all about the execution.

So what about you? Are you ever trigger happy or more ofter reluctant? Any techniques to share to curb impulsive impulses?

Comments

jennymilch said…
I'm probably at the extreme here...to avoid exactly that deflation you mention, I don't say a word about a WIP until the whole first draft is complete. Not even the title, although those sometimes leak out (on floppies--yes, I still use them--or notes and such).

I find that keeping my premise, plot, characters, the scenes of a day, ALL of it, secret generates excitement and suspense--two qualities I'd like to imbue my story with. And I love the unveiling feeling that comes when the draft is complete.

Of course, since none of these WIPs have actually to reach the shelves yet, who knows if I'm approaching this right?
I'm not sure if there actually is a right or wrong way, but I'm really impressed with your restraint!

Actually, everyone's different in this regard. I have trusted c.p.s who help me keep from getting too far off track in the early portion of the book, and I generally like my agent to have some clue of what I'm working on.

But then, it's always been hard for me to keep my mouth shut about anything that excites me. ;)
TJ Bennett said…
I have to gestate an idea for many months before I can convince myself it isn't too stupid to mention to someone else. By the time I speak it, it's pretty much taken root and then I'm trying to make sure it really isn't stupid, so I share. :-)

I have done what you said, though, given the idea away too early and then lost interest in it. But then I think those books just weren't meant to be. If they still hold excitement for me after I say it out loud, then I know that's one that will likely hold my interest through the very difficult writing process.

TJB
Joni Rodgers said…
Trigger happy here. I'm all in with very little provocation.
Nancy J. Parra said…
Um...*raises hand* me, too. I'm terribly trigger happy. lol. It does have it's down side. Hope I can learn your restraint. cheers!
Kathryn said…
I go back and forth. If I really trust someone (like my husband), I will talk about it. But outside of him, I don't really talk about it much. This was why, when I had the first draft done, I resisted my dissertation director's advice to workshop it. I wanted to go back and do what I KNEW I needed to do. But she convinced me to workshop it in a very small, select group, and in the end, I am glad I did.

For my first novel, it was helpful to have so many smart readers confirm what it was I already knew. And I learned one big thing from it--that the voice was more omniscient than I'd thought and the book would be better told if I just went with that. I'm still not sure, in the end, if I'd recommend a writer WORKSHOP a novel--it was awfully hard to sit through six hours of almost all negative critique, and I literally wanted to throw myself off a bridge afterwards. But I picked myself back up and got back on the horse and wrote--what I think is a much better second draft.

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