The story is very familiar. You wake up in the middle of the night, or you’re stopped cold in the shower, or something comes together in your brain while you’re driving. In short, you come up with an amazing idea for a story. Throughout the entire day, you can’t stop thinking about it and you keep developing it more and more in your head. That idea is beautiful to you and you can’t see anything wrong with it.
And then you start to write.
Having an idea for a writing project is a wonderful feeling and it can be so much fun to plan out that idea and make it ready to hit the page. But when you do actually hit the page and start putting word after word, you might find that your idea is less than perfect. Soon you’ll start finding plot holes and you’ll realize your characters are not as well-developed as you had thought. The honeymoon period is over.
Preserving that moment when you had that great idea can be tempting, and sometimes it means that writers never actually put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. That, my friends, is even more tragic than that honeymoon period being over.
I found a great quote from Ben H. Winters, who wrote The Last Policeman, on this subject. Ben said, “…any writer will tell you, an IDEA for a book is like falling in love, it’s all wild emotion and headlong rush, but the ACTUAL ACT of writing a book is like building a relationship: it is joyous, slow, fragile, frustrating, exhilarating, painstaking, exhausting, worth it.”
The analogy of having and idea and beginning to write it being compared to falling in love and beginning a relationship is a great one. When you fall in love, you often are in love with the idea of a person. When you begin to build an actual relationship, you have to come to terms with that person’s faults and failures, just as you come to terms with the faults and failures of your precious idea. But having a relationship often carries with it a great pay-off in the end — a lasting connection with someone you love.
The same goes for writing. If you stick with something past the idea phase, into the difficult and strenuous creation phase, you’ll come out on the other side with a manuscript that you hug close to your chest despite its faults.
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan