Monday, March 03, 2008

What Happens when the Well Runs Dry?

"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all." ~Abraham Lincoln

OK, I'd like to know how many writers out there have ever felt the same way: there is a finite number of stories we can create.

I read an author interview recently where the woman said that at any given time, she had at least 50 story ideas running through her head. Whoa. That scares me.

Because I don't even know if I have more than 5. Seriously. I mean, I do have this file of possible story ideas that I add to whenever inspiration hits me, but I don't think there are more than 10 or so in there. And I really can't imagine being the kind of person who has all these fabulous, complex plotlines coming at her from every direction. I do worry that there will come a time when I have nothing left to write.

I mean, no story is original anyway, right? Everything's been done before; you just have to figure out a way to do it and be new about it. But sometimes the challenge of doing that, of really creating a new and different angle on a storyline, is rather daunting.

I shouldn't worry now. I'm quite pleased with my characters and my plot for One Night in Napa. And yesterday I got some wonderful feedback from one of my dear critique partners about Summer's Song.

Still, every once in a while that sneaky little doubter in my conscience creeps in and whispers, "Oh, yeah? But what next? What happens when you finish this one? What's next if you're lucky enough to sell this one? That story idea is passe, and that one's already been done a hundred times, and that one's too predictable, and..."

So tell me: how do you come up with new and interesting and original ideas to keep the words flowing? And how do you keep the doubt away?


Marianne Arkins said...

I don't think the doubt ever goes away.

FIFTY ideas? I can't imagine... I mean, I have several, especially for shorter stuff. But ideas strong enough to carry a novel? I can count those on my fingers.

Dru said...

I think "doubts" makes us stronger and inspires us to handle all that we face.

Sometimes the smallest ideas, the ones that you discount, are the possible one.

Keep on writing...your stories will come when you need them to.

Have a good Monday.

bunnygirl said...

How one counts one's story ideas is probably a matter of how reductionist one wants to be.

I have two recent short stories that are basically boy-meets-girl, boy-gets-girl. But one story is hard-edged and cynical, the other is light-hearted and romantic. Same essential story; different telling.

As for doubts, they come with the territory. I treat them like a bad case of PMS-- be patient, keep the faith, and they'll pass. :-)

windycindy said...

I am not a writer, but I can't imagine 50 stories in my head! I always have my mind going about everything. My husband doesn't! We are all individuals with our own ways of going about life. You are doing great.....Thanks,Cindi

Allie Boniface said...

Dru, I think you're absolutely right about the small ideas...they're the ones that sometimes turn into the most interesting premises. Thanks, everyone - it's good to know I'm not alone!