There are a lot of ways to ask and answer this question – but the one I mean today is “How do you know you’re ready for that idea that won’t leave you alone?”
It’s not something we’re ready for at all times. The idea hits me and I want to run with it. The problem comes along later, when I realize the idea was not fully formed and is in dire need of tweaks and research and who knows what else… And when I run into that wall I end up with a partial draft of something that I’m not sure what to do with, because the idea takes a turn every time I actually finish the front end stuff.
Somehow that leads me to the idea I wasn’t quite ready to write it when I started setting fingers to keyboard. Later, when the ideas mature, I can put them in different combinations and make something better.
Example: I just pulled two ideas from my snippets and merged them with another idea I came up with more recently. While they were not related at first, this time they seem more suited to weaving together. Once I started down that path, a torrent of words spewed forth. Then I read my old notes and found nuances I had forgotten. I’m still trying to pin them together.
I’m not sure if it’s enough to write that novel yet. I have a couple different viewpoints I want to show in this world I’m creating, but I haven’t figured that all out yet. So it might be a few novellas woven together into a book. It might also be a series. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how much I have to say before it begins.
Other times I am not sure if I’m ready to say exactly what needs to be said. At least I have time to manage to think about it. I am focusing on editing my last manuscript (still working due to moving and having a baby and everything else that gets in the way of pure writing pursuits), yet in the meantime I still doodle and dream up this alternate place that sings to me when my creative side takes hold.
I’m not sure I’m ready to write it yet. The two year old and the two week old are definitely taking most of my waking hours and will continue to do that for some time. I’m also not sure what my message is, but somehow the idea won’t leave me alone for the moment.
It’s a little like when the unicorn kept telling me he was the one who wanted to skewer my last protagonist. Silly unicorn, she’s got her own magic to protect her. Now if only she could control it… But that’s another story that hasn’t quite been finished yet. I promise I will when I’m ready. The question of how to know when I’m ready troubles me, but I write hundreds of thousands of words in a year (250k+ last year). I have time to figure out drafts and redraft them later.
I’ll admit it would be seriously more efficient if I could figure that all out before I start drafting, but so far I haven’t been able to help myself. What do you do when that idea takes hold of your brain and won’t let go? Do you write it? Do you start building the world? Do you outline (or whatever other plot devices you use to figure it out before you write)? Or do you take a little snippet and let it simmer for later?