I spent half of today going through my “Projects” folder. It was quite enjoyable. In that folder I keep all the stuff I ever wrote… including the first short story I ever uploaded on a forum. That was eight years ago.
Anyway. I did this because I’m trying to figure out what to work on next. I’ve always struggled with this: I simply have too many ideas.
When I was working on The Writer, I knew what I was going to write next. But for the past week, I’ve been reading and editing and writing on at least a dozen different novels and short stories. If I keep this up, I’ll never finish anything.
But I’ve made a sort of inventory of what I have in my “Projects” folder.
1. Ten thousand or so words on the new version of La tiers du cylindre, the first novel I ever wrote, the first piece of fiction I wrote in English, the first thing I self-published, and, probably, the worst piece of self-published writing ever to be sold on Amazon. And all other major retailers, I might say.
2. Fifteen thousand words on another novel, Dream City.
3. A three thousand word short story, The Sea.
4. Three incomplete short stories.
5. A bunch of fragments, scenes, and about five thousand words of something that’s supposed to be a novella.
6. About two hundred folders with empty word files in ’em. Those scare me the most.
Anyway, the thing is that I also have a few other WIPs that I have already mentally outlined. And those are the ones that I never start work on. I just suppose that as long as the story feels complete inside my head and as long as I have something else to work on, I just can’t find enough motivation to write them.
And then there are those ideas that I have, the ones I always postpone because I don’t feel a good enough writer. Or I just think I haven’t lived enough. I haven’t done enough research. You know, I just have to wait. I’m not sure if this is silly or not, but I know that some of those ideas require a certain skill I have yet to acquire.
You know, stories that would require multiple POVs, multiple narrators, stories that I’d feel have to be written as second person narratives (that’s a guilty pleasure of mine.)
Maybe I’m just lazy or scared of ruining a good idea. But then, if I don’t write these stories, who’s going to?
So, yeah, this past week I’ve been worrying about stuff I shouldn’t worry about.
Will I run out of ideas by the age of 25?
This one’s what I’m really trying to say something about. I am sure that some of you feel this way just before you finish a major project. You may or may not panic. But you want to know what’s next, what you’re going to write next. And you start rummaging for new things to write about.
I know I do this, I know that I do a lot of brainstorming just before I finish writing a novel and add a few more empty folders to the “Projects” folder.
But do you ever run out of things to write about?
I’m sure you don’t. You’re only afraid you’ll do. But the thing is that as long as you’re alive, you’ll have something to write. As long as you go out there and live and observe, you’ll find things that are worthy of writing about.
Just so you don’t feel I’ve completely wasted your time, here’s Ian McEwan explaining ideas and inspiration and how important life experience is to writing.