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Idea Debt


toujours gai, archie
Good article.

I have another angle on that. Around these parts we call it world building--all the work that lies *outside* of a story. World building can be seductive because everything always works. They're just ideas, building blocks, and as such we can move them around pretty much at will. Sure, once in a while we may get stuck or run out of ideas, but for the most part we're just sketching, we're not actually painting. The music analogue is noodling versus composing.

When we come to write, though, things can go bad fast. As per the article Svrtnsse cites, the doing is never as pure as the imagining. Our words, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, let us down. And if we do manage to get a completed work, we see the plot has stumbled, the pacing is off.

IOW, imagining is easy; writing is hard. Even harder is getting our writing to the point where we crank out serviceable sentences by the hundred and thousands. Not brilliant, mind you, just sentences that aren't off-key, paragraphs that aren't out of place. I'm on my fifth book and I'm still not there. But I do know that eventually I can shine up the prose, fix the pacing, and produce a readable story.

But it's work. Work in the sense of showing up every day and doing what needs doing next. With world building, with imagining, we can bounce all around joyfully. Every idea is shiny. Everything has potential. A sentence has no potential. It just sits there glaring at you, daring you to do better.

We should all aim for zero debt.
I'm familiar with this; it's basically description of the project I shelved for an indeterminate amount of time a few years ago.

Thing is, I'm shelving it because I'm aware of how I don't yet have the skill to complete the project, so I'm working on other projects. The article kind of sets up a dichotomy between "either do it NOW or abandon it." I want to wait until I know I can actually pull it off (read: have a couple completed novels, published or no, under my belt) before I try again and inevitably get burned out when the complexity is outside my technical skill.

Not to mention that im still trying to systematically deconstruct my 14 year old selfs version of that tale and that's taking time.

The important thing imo, is whether or not you're actually getting your ass in a chair and writing other stuff in the time before you get that Big Story done. If you're just procrastinating and you're not working on any other projects at all, just daydreaming about the big one, you're stuck. You'll never be able to write the big one.

If you're letting the big one *keep you from writing*, therein lies the problem.