I’ve been in a bit of reading (among other things) funk of late. I have downloaded several story samples on my Kindle, and as I read, I find myself thinking things like why did the author do that? if this was my story, I would have . . . Really, this had the potential to be a great story, but . . .
This entire line of thought inspired me to try writing a mystery story. This is something I have always wanted to do but haven’t had the courage to try. I found some ebooks on writing mysteries; while I didn’t find a “template” per se, one of the books included a nice checklist for organizing your mystery – parts to make sure you include. For those of you considering writing your first mystery, I would recommend How to Write Mysteries by Nicola Furlong. My second choice is The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing the Modern Whodunit by William G. Tapply. Ooh, so exciting thinking about what kind of murder mysterty I want to write (obviously, the sub-genre will be romance). I spy a bloody knife? A smoking gun? A crumpled body surrounded by blood? So many, many options! (And despite the mentions of blood, vampires will NOT be included! hee hee)
Sorry for the sidetrack. Back on topic – enter the conundrum piece. I have several stories started now. What is the prudent thing to do as a writer? Start yet another story or sit down and finish what I have in mid-story. I posed this question to two of my close friends, one a writer and one not. They both gave me excellent ideas, which I’m going to share with you if you ever find yourself in this same spot.
They both agreed that forcing myself to work on something where I am lacking inspiration can be harmful. I could get frustrated and write less than compelling/ interesting stories (or even turn my back on writing if I am super-frustrated). I like Dawn’s comment, “Go where you feel the biggest pull.” In this case, if that is the new story, then write on that. She also reminded me that sometimes the creative pool will be dry – i.e., I will want to write a piece but am drawing a blank on a neat or particularly unique idea. With these partial stories, I have lots of beginning ideas, they will just need twists and turns to be completed pieces.
Cathy’s comment that really hit home was
Guess you have to ask yourself, are you writing the piece because you enjoy writing it or you have to finish something you started? Writing shouldn’t feel like a job or a chore that you have to do.
Perfect! For me, writing should be fun, something relaxing that takes me to a different world away from the stress and struggles of my own. While the real world may not always have happily-ever-afters, my stories definitely can. How refreshing! I also liked Cathy’s idea of keeping a binder of printed out unfinished stories. I will add to that including printouts of where I would like to submit the stories so I can keep track. I am going to organize it by deadline. If the Spirit moves to me to make the deadline, so be it. If not, no worries. I will find somewhere else that might like to publish my story. I feel the weight lifting already! I keep an idea notebook, why not keep one of unfinished pieces?
Thanks so much to Dawn and Cathy for their advice! If ever you find yourself in this spot, maybe their ideas will help you to get back on track. Remember, writing should be fun, not an exercise in frustration.