When The Ideas Won’t Cooperate

I am really annoyed at writing right now so this is basically just a rant, but maybe you’ll find it helpful, or at least you can share your frustration with me.

when the ideas won't cooperate, writing rants

Writing is hard okay. It can be so difficult.

I recently finished Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, and that series fills me with a burning desire to write something as amazing as that. The only problem is I am a perfectionist and nothing seems good enough. No idea seems like it will ever be as unique or magical as that. And as much as I want need to take a step back and just do something else (namely study for my exams which are happening as we speak) this yearn to write won’t stop bugging me.

I just want to be able to string words together in an amazing fashion, to spin a magical world. Unfortunately I can’t do that yet because I need to plot first. And it seems like every time I think I’m making progress I take myself back to step one because it just isn’t good enough. How do I create the magic that is the greywaren’s powers?? The answer is I don’t. I can’t. That’s such a unique idea. Only… it isn’t.

I actually did some research and this is an idea that has been written before, it’s something that people have claimed to be able to do for ages. So technically I could write it into my story, I just couldn’t expect people to take said story as unique. Although considering I haven’t finished a novel because I always get stuck in the middle I think being taking seriously is pretty low on my list of priorities.

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But back to ranting

I have two key problems with writing. Firstly I have too high standards for my own ideas. I want them to be impressive and exciting and new. I want them to hold my own interest and stand up to tests of rationality. Only, I write fantasy, so these things are never going to happen. Only, whenever I am writing fantasy elements I get caught up in how fake it seems, but if I try to write real life I find it too boring. I can’t bring myself to write fae or vampires or demons because it seems over done and unrealistic. But magic isn’t about doing something new, it’s about doing it in a new way. I really need to get that into my head.

Secondly, I am a character person. I have a bunch of ideas for characters and their relations to each other, but none of these have any plot and few of them have a setting. I struggle to make a plot out of my characters because I want the book to be more than just about a girl trying to get a sandwich or get into a certain collage, but then I end up over complicating things and getting stuck in a web of my own plot holes.

I’m just really annoyed. I just want to have a clear novel idea that is unique and special. Unfortunately I think for now I’m going to have to distance myself from that perfectionistic voice and write something cliche and a little bit boring just so I can finish writing something and learn about how I write.

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So for this current idea, I want it to be a bit magical (like the raven cycle) but to the extent that there is a full hidden world like in Harry Potter. I want it to have cool and unique and kind of mystical magic, but I don’t want it to be psychics or lay lines. I am playing with the idea of dragons, but I don’t know how that would tie into the story.

I also need to have a tangible goal for my characters, e.g. in The Raven Cycle Gansey wants to find a welsh king who is rumored to be buried in the area. That’s a fine motivation, but it isn’t a core part of the plot because I imagine it would be a lot of research and annoyed thinking. The majority of this series is just about the characters, and then external things happen and they have to react. I just need to figure out what those external things can be.

 

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I guess one of the other possibilities would be to take the advice I have given to other people, which is steal one (or two) elements of a book series you like. In my case, I’d steal the premise and or setting of another series and weave it into my characters to see how that turned out.

Obviously I would never be able to publish it, but it would stop me from thinking that my ideas were never good enough because it wouldn’t be fully my idea. It would basically be fan fiction, which is why I am so tentative to do it… but I am just so angry right now at my lack of full ideas that I am seriously considering it.

please send help

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9 thoughts on “When The Ideas Won’t Cooperate

  1. I understand how you’re feeling, especially when you talk about the perfectionist side of you. I used to be exactly the same! Everything I did I wanted to be perfect, but in the end, I just drove myself insane because perfectionism is impossible to achieve! I think you should JUST WRITE, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s horrible or what not, at least you’re writing something! And then you can go back again and make changes :) we will never be the best at something when we’re just starting, imagine how many stories Maggie wrote before The Raven Cycle, and they probably were far from “perfect”. Just keep persisting and you’ll get there :)

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    1. Thanks for the advice! I definitely think I need to let go of whether the ideas will be good enough, at least until I have finished a manuscript or two and have a bit more skill. And good point, I know Maggie Stiefvater said she has written many novels and lots of short stories, I’ve just got to keep going. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  2. I understand your frustration so so well!! And honestly I was really tearing my hair out over this a few years back and ended up reading a blog post where this writer said that it’s actually good if we’re frustrated with our own writing because it means WE HAVE GOOD TASTE. We know we’re not there yet! But we know we need to improve, so we’re not complacent about our craft. So that’s like at least a small positive?!😂

    I do think the best way to get through blocks like this is to just keep writing! I KNOW THAT SUCKS TO SAY. But the only way to get better (definitely in my experience) is just to wriiiiiite. I’ve written 20+ novels now and you get into a groove and figure out how to tell the story the way you have it in your head. (I also had to quit on my perfectionism and take up messy-first-drafting, buuuut, that’s up to the individual.) SO KEEP WRITING!! DON’T QUIT ON IT!! And totally write some fanfic if you think that’ll help. :D

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    1. Thanks for the advice and motivation! That’s a good point that it means we have taste and know it isn’t good yet. I’m definitely going to keep going, I just find the ideas phase especially difficult.

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  3. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, we have this idea of what the perfect thing (whether is a story, a blog post, a drawing, a painting, even a dish you want to cook ) should be like that when it comes to actually doing it we get stuck…we can’t get it done…In my case it used to happen a lot when I was doing some of my crafts (I used to do decorative painting on wood) and what worked for me (most of the time) was just trying to put all that Perfectionism (or the idea of it) aside and just do it…Good luck with your writing..

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  4. AGH I GET THIS! SOmetimes I get these really cool ideas and plot bunnies and I start plotting them out and outlining and writing and then when I actually do those things I realise HOW UNORIGINAL my idea and how plain it is. How there is SUCH A LITTLE TO IT. And then I just ditch the whole thing BECAUSE I FEEL SO FRUSTRATED! This spoke to me a lot! I also find If I read a book and then immediately write my ideas and WRITING STYLE is 80% of the book I just read?? It’s super wierd

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    1. AHh yES this is what I am feeling exactly. And that is so true, when I read a book I love I totally imitate it subconsciously. I’ve just got to figure out how to replicate the tone of the book without loosing my own writing style.

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