I am about to start searching for ideas for my next book. Instructions For Falling In Love Again is doing really well and getting some great reviews. Heartbreak Cafe (working title) has just been submitted to the RNA New Writers Scheme so I need something to keep me out of mischief.
Coming up with an idea for your next book or story is not easy. Being a writer or an author doesn’t always mean you have a queue of ideas all waiting patiently for you to do something with them. No. A lot of the time it goes something like this. You spend ages twiddling a pencil while at the same time trying to think of an idea. You spend night after night waiting for the literary elves to show up clutching an amazing new idea, you tweet a lot about having zero ideas, pester writing friends and when none of this works you force yourself to go out and find new story ideas.
Things don’t run smoothly either when you do stumble upon a new story and get excited about it. Believe me, you can quickly lose that loving feeling for a story idea. It doesn’t take much for this to happen.
After many creative dalliances with new story ideas, I can see some interesting similarities with dating.
Knowing your type
When you start dating you have a rough idea about the type of person you are looking for; gender, hair colour, personality, clothes, humour, income etc.
When you start story hunting you have a vague idea about what it is you are looking for. In my case I am looking for a romantic comedy with a devilishly handsome male character and a relatable female character who finds herself over the course of the tale.
When you start dating someone you might have a head full of unrealistic romantic expectations; your date will definitely be ‘the one’, they will be perfect in every way and you will be living together in sweet harmony within a few months.
When you start work on a new story idea you might have a head full of unrealistic expectations too; you will write it in a matter of weeks, literary agents will be fighting each other to get their hands on it and your book signing event will definitely need some form of crowd control.
TryIng your hardest to ignore the niggling issues
When you start dating someone you will at first ignore niggling issues; your date’s love of bad jokes, your date’s secret nose picks when they think you aren’t looking, your date’s decision to give themselves a severe side hair parting on date 3 (without any prior warning to you) and your date’s insistence on talking about themselves for more than ten minutes. At first you dismiss these niggles, but after a few dates you can’t stop feeling irritated at the mere sight of that side hair parting and you find yourself seriously considering buying them a joke book. It’s at this point you ask yourself – can I carry on dating in view of these niggling issues?
When you start a new story you also ignore niggling issues; the male character is a bit of a drip, the opening chapter start sounds a bit dark and your plot has a moon crater sized plot hole which is getting harder to ignore. At first you also dismiss these niggles but after a few writing sessions you can’t stop shouting at your drippy male character, you wonder whether you should do a promotional link up with an emotional help line to help your readers get through the first chapter and you can’t get to sleep at night without thinking about that plot hole. It’s at this stage you ask yourself – can I carry on writing this story in view of these issues?
When you start dating you might decide early on to go exclusive (stay true to one partner) or you might carry on seeing a couple of people at the same time.
When you start story hunting you might also decide to go exclusive (stay true to one story idea) or you might decide to play the literary field and work on a few ideas at the same time.
Fizzling out early
When you start dating things can get intense very quickly and then fizzle out. After date 2 you could both be considering booking a spring mini break together and by date 4 you might run for the hills at the mention of a long weekend in the other’s company.
When you begin a new story idea things can also get intense very quickly and then fizzle out. After laying down 4k words you could find yourself tweeting about how this will be a #literarygamechanger and by 10k words you could find yourself wishing you’d never even started it (deleting all your earlier tweets).
You might make up some excuses in order to get out of going on a date; washing your hair, cleaning out the fridge or keeping your promise about playing scrabble with the cat.
You might also move make up some excuses about not writing some more of that new story; you need to tweet random stuff, you are desperate to pick fluff out of a jumper or you need to keep your promise about turning the cat into a star on Instagram.
When dating you might come across someone who ticks all your boxes and treats you to nights of non stop passion. This will lead to you looking like a shadow of your former self within a few weeks, yawning all the time at work and relying on caffeine to get you through the day.
When looking for a new story idea you might also come across which ticks all your literary boxes. This idea will treat you to nights of non stop writing passion. Within a few weeks you will also be looking like a shadow of your former self; too tired to tweet, yawning a lot and finding you need an extra nap in the day.
Good luck out there!
Lucy x 👩🏼💻