Tag Archives: Online Writing

On Process: Too Many Ideas, Too Little Time

Usually creative people complain about creative block.  I don’t.  For the most part, I have the opposite problem.  Too many ideas.  Not enough time to execute them.  I have this constant fear that I shall die suddenly without sharing all the pictures in my head.  That would be a great incentive to work if it weren’t for the fact that my poor health is a huge brake on my capacity to work.

And then there is the fact that I have the mind of a butterfly.

The Buddhist masters often refer to the concept of ‘Monkey Mind’.  This is what your mind does when you try to meditate, and your thoughts bounce around like gibbons, and feel impossible to control.

Welcome to my world.

Actually, that is not entirely true.  I can be deeply committed to one idea for a short period of time.  The most I can normally manage is about three months.  Then I bounce off to find another sparkly thing.  Most of the time, I come back.  Occasionally, I manage to actually finish something.  Occasionally it gets shelved for good, or the idea gets incorporated into something new, because its too good to waste.

I’ve been socialising a lot this summer, and people have repeatedly asked me the same questions:

‘How’s the writing going?  What are you working on at the moment?’

Below is the honest answer (i.e. the one I don’t give nice people at parties because its too complicated to explain, especially if they’ve never met me before.)

The things I am currently working on:

  • A series of short stories about John and Sherlock in a stable relationship
  • Finishing a work about Sherlock’s pursuit of public sexual humiliation because of his guilt about his faked suicide.
  • A novella about a Viking Princess
  • My novel about Victorian sexuality, currently titled ‘The Butler Did It’ (Please could somebody suggest a better title, I’m getting desperate!)
  • My journaling ebook

Other ideas I have churning about in my head include:

  •  A possible novella about a young man getting over the death of his male lover in a road accident
  • A short story based on a line from a deliciously naughty Johnlock fanfic I read the other day, The Red Box by Cleo2012
  • The third Evenlode novel (vampire gangsters ahoy!)
  • A Loki fanfic set after the end of Thor 1

(And this is before I have even begun to tell you about the paintings I want to make…)

I was explaining this smorgasbord to a friend, and she said ‘How on earth do you handle all that?’

The answer is, ‘I have no idea.’

I suppose I have a good memory, but the older I get, the more I am going to need to employ my writing notebooks to record all this.  The truth is that ideas are far easier to come by for me than the wherewithal to execute them.  And there just isn’t enough time in my day to get all this done, and execute my duties as wife, friend, aunt, guidemother, part-time carer to elderly, sick in-laws etc etc. and still protect my health.

Triage is necessary.

I just have to grab one sparkly thing and run with it for as long as I can.  I have to choose the most important thing to me at the time.

Most creative people complain about creative block, but the other side of the coin is equally disabling, and I know for a fact I am not the only one who experiences this problem.  Choosing which is the best idea to work on.

If you have any ideas on how best to deal with idea overspill, please let me know in the Replies section.  I’d love to know what you do.

Happy Creating,

EF

How to begin?

If you want to write, just write.  If you want to paint, just paint.  If you want to do anything creative, as the Nike people say, ‘just do it’.

Only, its not that simple is it?  How do you get out of your own way?  How do you crush all those voices in your head, the teacher who told you that you were rubbish at art, the music teacher who threw you out of choir because she said you couldn’ sing (actually she didn’t like me, but thats another story!), and the old Devil Himself, the Perfectionist voice (I call mine Nigel for some reason) that says nothing you do will ever be good enough.

Well, let me begin by telling you a little story about how I gave my Nigel voice a good kicking, and ended up here, writing my first post on this website about Writing and Creativity.

About two years ago, I was stuck in a creative hole.  I have been writing for as long as I can remember, literally since I could hold a pen, but I didn’t take my writing seriously until 2001,  Since then I had written seven novels and dozens of short stories, but none of them satisfied me, felt good enough, or finished enough.  I was not achieving the standard of writing that I wanted.  I was not getting published.  I had ground to a halt.

Then I heard about fanfiction.

Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard all about that stuff thanks to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.  Well, let me tell you something you don’t know about fanfiction.  There are literally thousands of people writing it out there, and the standard is at times gobsmackingly good, as good as anything you would find listed on the Man Booker shortlist.  Yes, some of it is terrible, but a lot of it is written by people for whom English is not a first language, or by college students, so you have to take that into account.  (Anyway, this is not intended to be a defence of fanfiction.)

What happened next:  it occurred to me that I had been writing fanfiction for years.  I just didn’t know it had a name.  I tell myself stories every night while I wait to go to sleep (insomnia has been my constant companion since childhood).  Often they are peopled by the characters I see in TV and films – in other words, they are fanfiction.  I decided to write the stories down.

By the end of the first year, I had written over 100,000 words, was writing every day, sometimes two or three thousand words a day (which any writer will tell you is an enviable productivity rate) and I was getting better at my craft.  I was learning.  Fanfiction turned out to be a great playground to test out techniques and ideas.

And all I was doing was writing down my daydreams.

It was money for old rope, as they say here in Britain.

The day I hit the ‘publish’ button on my first story at fanfiction.net was a huge turning point.  My work was out there.  People could read it.  It was terrifying.  Nigel was having a nervous breakdown!  But you know what?  The readers were kind.  They loved my work.

Fanfiction doesn’t have to be perfect.  That is why it is perfect.  The perfect learning place, a supportive community of writers and readers who give you positive feedback, encourage you and help you to do better.

Since my first publication day, I have put out 27 works in various fandoms, and get on average over 100 readers per day.  In one month last year, I had over 44,000 readers for my works.  How many conventionally published writers can say that?

What I am asking you to do today is to think about this story.  I went from scribbling down a daydream to a massive readership, because I found a way to outwit my own fears.  I’m still terrified, don’t get me wrong.  But there is a way, and if I can do it, you can too.

This is what this website will be about.  Outwitting our Nigels.  Taking baby steps.  Finding ways to be creative.  Being gentle with ourselves.  I hope you will join me on the ride, and I hope we will have fun making glorious pictures in the clouds together.

Best Wishes,

Evenlode’s friend.

(You can find my fanfictions at fanfiction.net and at An Archive of Our Own, but be warned, these are NSFW and deal with VERY adult issues.)