Abundance: a double edged sword of too many choices
Sometimes you have too many choices, too many ideas. It’s actually my biggest problem lately. Actually, it’s one of those problems that have been haunting me my entire life. Please, don’t scoff. This is not out of some backward arrogance to show off or sound cool. I’m not, btw. Cool. I’m a fucking nerd. Artsy, loner, boring as fuck most days. Responsible. Anywho. I’m also really creative. I generate ideas and then I stare at them wondering where to start. It’s a real problem.
Before I was writing, I was facing the reality that my brain can pretty much take on any task well enough that I could succeed and likely make a living—If I didn’t have a mental break from the stress of whatever chosen career I followed. Used to sing professionally. Used to digitally paint professionally. Wouldn’t even need to be in the creative field—I can tear apart a job, organize it to simple steps and take on just about anything. With full blown Lyme I created a business model to make my own limited edition sculptures with short graphic novels tied in to the characters. They were fucking adorable little wax sculps and designs currently sitting on my shelf because I went a different path.
Skill is not enough. It sucks, but it’s true. You need more than a talent to succeed at a job. I could probably teach people how to write, sing, and paint and be pretty damn good at it because I like nurturing people. But I wouldn’t be able to handle it as a long term job. Why? I can’t handle being around people too long. Loner. Anxiety. So easily sucked into other people’s lives because of those empathetic synapses that I use to mirror and understand the interesting people around me while I try to stay afloat and self-contained. It was too difficult to be myself when my body used to be a musical instrument. Too painful to extract myself from my paintings to draw what other people wanted. Too fucking boring to do the same thing every day, my mind left to dull and grow dim even when it was creative. Human interaction/success/money isn’t enough for me. I need the creative growth to know I’m alive. It’s probably some unhealthy addiction but it’s the way I’m wired. And some days, weeks, months it just plain sucks.
I’m going to give you a list of what I’m dealing with on the writing front. I’ll follow up with some of my action plans that have worked. I’m sort of hoping this article is going to help me figure out my shit today because I’m flighty as fuck and can’t settle on a story.
The List Of Choices
One sequel to Demon Arms, mostly outlined, another in the brainstorming phase, and three other different specific ideas that aren’t developed but definitely percolating in the brain to do with this story, along with an overall containing arc that would add a sort of epic flare. Looking at @ 5 books in this series, each 100,000 words.
Nearly fully outlined Sorcerer/Demon fic in a Shifter Safe Haven setting. I know I’m hesitating on this one because of using sexually questionable methods in a more therapeutic sense and worried I’m stepping over appropriate lines when it’s an adult novel, not young adult or new adult. 100,000 words with a really easy possibilty of sequels.
Two fully developed sequels to Blackthorne, 100,000 words each, where I’m hesitating again because I’m worried the action aspect will be too lacking compared to the original book. Sequels are freaking difficult. They can never be the first book—that’s boring and already done—but how do you keep the plot still interesting, the characters still fresh and emotive when they’re already introduced? I’m going to have to figure it out.
Greydove and Reign, an evil demon vs protective den of vampires novel with a really interesting world and characters. Fate vs love. Already fully outlined, damn beautiful and just waiting for me to give it my attention. But I don’t love vamps, I have this huge block when it comes to them, probably because they’ve been written to death by every other fucking writer out there already. Probably closer to 150,000 words once done.
Crossdressing sorcerer saddled with protecting a town falls for the new norm that moves in. Paranormals of all types, lots of werewolves with a pack mentality. Destiny vs love, fully outlined, absolutely love every damn character in it, angsty and sweet and even some bdsm in there. 100,000 words.
Dragon Blessed. Dragon Cursed. A set of two novels, god help me, already outlined and just waiting for me to write them. Set in a small, isolated spot in Maine, dragon shifter that falls from the stars to be sacrificed, rescued by fledgling sorcerer who discovers the history of why the land is cursed as he moves in with his relatives. The second book is the clean up, the original cursed family trying to get life back together without the crazy elders while unwilling to accept help from those they’ve wronged. Sorcerer falls for a norm but too self hating to do anything about it. Love these two freaking stories and they’re just sitting there. 100,000 words each, easy.
Winterblade. Crazy fic, likely 200,000 words.
Crap, oh and Deathscar, which is like maybe a set of two novels once they’re done, but so old, like Winterblade that I need to totally revamp before I can deal with them.
Total: Looking at about 15 novels brewing in my head, some totally ready to be written, around 1,650,000 words.
Let’s see, I got an adult construction by day/bartender by night twenty something taking care of his sister after their folks died, trying not to lose their family home while falling for a rich, divorced dad with a history of bad relationships. 50,000 words, easy. Mostly outlined.
Set of two novels, hell cats, surprised demonic shifter cats that find reluctant owners. Closer to 30,000 words each… Maybe 50,000 for the first one, it’s a bit more action adventure. Outlined.
A down on his luck fresh out of school ends up in his family crime business, only to fall for a demonic being that his family has some vendetta to kill. Probably 50,000 words. Half outlined.
Saved by a vamp and locked up in his decaying mansion. Adored captive kind of thing. 30,000, or more cus I haven’t outlined the ending.
Ridiculously adorable brony (aka unicorn shifter) fic where I just got really fucking silly cus I wanted to see if I could do it. All outlined with a whole lot of pink and rainbows. 30,000 words.
Third Floor Bathroom. Set of three 10,000 word episodes that I’ll probably just put into one 30,000 word fic. Humiliation, degradation, hazing and dubcon with some kidnapping thrown in there for good measure. Outlined.
Erotic Wonderland. Enough said, outlined with potential for more. A group of short stories compiled together. @50,000 words.
Dark Autumn. Could end up being a novel, but after the rewrite—before it wasn’t dark enough and too fantasy, less paranormal—I’m hoping to be more minimalistic. Halfling captured on the worst night possible, falls for a terrible, tormenting paranormal prince. Bdsm and slave lifestyle with some redemption by the end. 50,000 words, maybe more. Outlined.
Total brings me to 9 books at about 370,000
Shorts, aka Strokes:
Seriously, over 100. Each 10,000 words. Outlined, sexy, waiting for me to give a fuck. Sigh.
Total. Let’s give it a nice round number of 1,000,000 words to get all those short fics done.
So, that totals to about 2,820,000 words by the time I get all of the above done, and to be clear, I’ll have more new ideas before I even get close to ever finishing the above. Talk about an overwhelming amount of choices.
The above list is a reflection of inspiration without that perspiration to follow. A month ago, Demon Arms was on that list, couple months before that, I’ll Tell. Both were half written and then left to sit for a few months where they ruminated in my brain until I was finally ready for them. I might have written Blackthorne in a month’s time, but I’m not usually so focused and dedicated. I’m flighty. I need stimulation and that involves jumping from a few stories at a time while I’m feeling the creative burst. Otherwise, it becomes work while I try to push through the boredom, and that’s so much harder than riding inspiration.
But it can be dangerous to wait too long. You can forget that feeling that went with the outline you wrote. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it gives you a fresh perspective. But you risk losing the spark that made you interested in the first place. That beautiful, brilliant idea may just become that annoying file you glance at every other week, the bastard haunting you, taunting you for never actually finishing the fucker. It’s not great.
So what to do? Well, it’s important to remember that there is no wrong choice. My life is not hanging on the line if I choose the ‘wrong story’ to write when everything could have gone so differently if I had only written about the werewolves instead of the brothercest. It’s really not that big of a deal. But I do suffer from an anxiety disorder and sometimes these stupid freaking choices just drains the life out of you. Just remember, as long as you’re writing something, you’re winning.
I like serials because of this. Sitting my ass down and writing 10,000 words to a story a month and not stressing that I didn’t finish it this time is an immense help. You feel like you’re picking away at the iceberg and you can pretend you don’t know just how big it is under the water. It’s a nice lie to yourself where things seem manageable.
The only problem is, I can only do that with my serials. I have a lot of difficulty dedicating my time to only writing part of a story when I don’t have something I can put out and give to readers by the end of the week. If I wasn’t worried about paying bills, this problem would possibly disappear. Or, more likely, get worse because if left to my own devices, I am a fantastic procrastinator. It’s one of my many natural talents. Oh, writing is overwhelming. Choices? I’ll go paint a picture.
It’s good to have goals. Like, right now I’m aiming for at least one short 10,000 word fic on smashwords a month to build my presence there while I finish up my current serials. So as long as I pick one short to write, I won some little victory and the mountain seems smaller. But it’s a mountain of creativity and it’s never really going to stop growing. The wellspring doesn’t run out. I’m never really going to win, and get to the end and be ‘done.’ And yeah, that’s a good thing, that’s one of the beautiful things about creative endeavors, but it can also be frustrating to never fully feel like you’re going to find a spot to rest.
I hate the end of a book. It is the most stressful time for me. I have to switch hats from writer over to editor, proofreader, copywriter, and cover designer as well as get the website updated, the mailing list out, and stress over the weird ass algorithm Kindle has for new books where if I don’t get things out and seen at the right time, my book will disappear into the millions of books already out there. I think that’s why I’m liking smashwords more and more. I don’t have to care if I get the books up on a Saturday and the mailing list out by 5pm. It’s not going to effect anything, so why stress it?
I hate stress. I hate people telling me what to do, when to do it, and why I should care. I don’t want to care. I know what I need to care about and I don’t need other people putting their shit on me.
The whole process is exhausting, and it’s so hard to go back into writing mode after all that. But I have to. I can’t rest. Each cycle is me wrangling my brain to behave and fit into the box this writing gig requires. And don’t get me wrong, I love it, I do, but my brain is a flighty damn thing and it would rather come up with a million freaking outlines instead of sitting down and writing the damn story already. I’m a daydreamer and it’s hard to put me to work.
I feel like I should of named this post…
‘How to Avoid Writing Your Story by Writing a Blog Post Instead.’
You’ll find one of those annoying things about writing, at least for me, is once you solve the problem, the desire to continue decreases exponentially. You solved the problem of how to conclude the story, or how to get the characters together, or how to fit a werewolf into a story taking place in the middle of a city. It’s my problem with my other loves too. Once I figured out how to sing really well, I wasn’t that interested in actually singing. Fought with color and realism for years, then it all clicked one day and now I don’t have a challenge. When I’m just using the skill I learned, the normal time I put into a painting feels tedious and wasteful. Because it is tedious. 30 hours in front of a screen is boring.
So that’s my second thing. Set yourself goals, and find new ways to challenge yourself. Make your writing about more than just writing. Make it about making the best, new *vampire* story or try to approach your story differently where you want to focus on going crazy with really visual scenes, or emotive dialogue, or suspenseful action. You need to give your brain more or it will get bored, even when you’re doing something that for all intents and purposes should be forever varied and fun. Sick of sitting on your ass all day, writing? Try dictating to a microphone while doing something else. Get creative. Make choices that make a difference.
So yeah, add that to your writing job. Figuring out how to keep yourself interested in writing. Being talented, loving it, hell, making lots of money from it (if you are so blessed) doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be able to stick with it. You need to find what makes you passionate enough to return to it day after day, and that’s work of a different kind and just as important. Did you know going to work every day was actually a choice? Well when you figure it out, it is both freeing and terrible. Choices, once again.