Have you ever had a really good story idea and just realized that you were not at that level where you can write it out properly?
I have. Many times. In fact, I’m facing something like this right now.
I suppose it’s rather like coming to a level in Legend of Zelda or Metroid where you discover a new chamber or the location of an item but you can’t get at it yet because you haven’t gotten the right tools. Of course, I would make this thought analogous to video games, but another way of looking at it is that you reach a point in your development–at least with regards to one project–where you find a block that you need to somehow get around or realize is a part of what you seek.
There are several different ways to deal with this conceptual challenge. First off, you can research it. You can research the hell out of it. This research can come from books, or the Web, but it can also come from talking with the appropriate people and even doing some journeying.
It can also take some time. I have probably said before that different stories have different requirements. Some stories need a little bit of work, and others have to start as notes, and then a variety of rough drafts until finally you get something that you are looking for. Each draft, even the notes that precede it, is a prototype and each builds the foundation for what you want.
I also find a few other issues to consider with regards to this challenge. The first is dealing with the fear that your idea will be taken by someone who is more versed in it if you don’t use it first. This sounds really irrational, but that fear can be there. The second issue is energy in the form of enthusiasm.
Both issues can be very interrelated. In fact, I don’t really have any easy answers to dealing with them. I suppose all I can say is that after you do the work, you need to find something new to work on, something doable, some small part to do–piece by piece–each day so that the task remains doable in your mind. As for the fear, I suppose I can tell you that no one will quite write something the same way that you will. And they won’t. No one can write like you.
You will also find that ideas can change depending on your creative circumstance and if they don’t work in one context, they can be adapted to another. It might also help to realize that no idea that you ever make is truly original, that you borrow it from someone or somewhere else, but it is how you execute it and how your “accent” or evolving style affects it that is ultimately you.
This post may seem more haphazard than the ones that I usually make and maybe more theoretical. In a lot of ways, it is my attempt to make a conceptual or mental framework for a challenge that I have been dealing with: an attempt to help me focus on a project or two. But at the very least knowing your own limits is very important so that you can either work with them–and perhaps see the block as another angle of a usable idea (I have a friend who liked to always use the infamous quote, “Think fourth-dimensionally” in role-playing)–or know them so that you can potentially surpass them.
I will finish this off, however, by saying this. When all else fails: when research, accepting that you will change an idea by working it, focusing on the doable parts of the project and eventually moving on to the more complex stuff fails then I believe that this–and the subject of this entire post–is all about your own mindset and the need to challenge it enough to simply write down what is in your head: no matter how rough it may be at first. Once you do that, the rest of it will follow, or you simply move on: having learned something.
Whatever that is. 😉