“You don’t actually have to write anything until you’ve thought it out. This is an enormous relief, and you can sit there searching for the point at which the story becomes a toboggan and starts to slide.”
—Marie de Nervaud
Today’s quote comes to us courtesy of Writer’s Digest. (Thank you for the inspiration.)
New Ideas and Projects
I think this quote stuck out to me today because I am in the home stretch of a large revision to my second novel, Light and Shadow. In theory, I will be putting it out there to agents very shortly. Perhaps even in the next couple of weeks. But, this knowledge begs the question of, “What next?” What will I work on next?
A Toboggan Ride
When I started this current novel I didn’t use an outline, or plot out the entire story. I began with an idea of a character and some adventures I knew she would have. Like waypoints along a map I had places to check in on the plot. So, in keeping with the quote, it did feel very much like a toboggan ride. I kept following the path down the mountain and enjoyed finding out new pieces along the way.
I don’t know that I have a method for working on a new project, but I liked this quote because I gave me permission to spend time thinking and researching about it until I am ready to write. Most writers must have tons of ideas floating around in their heads. I know that I have at least four right now that could turn into a full novel. But the question is which one to explore? Or ones? Perhaps I am not far enough down the toboggan ride to even determine which idea is the best. My first book was very strictly plotted out. I began using the snowflake method and expanded it until I had a complete list of scenes I wanted to write. It enabled me to see the whole story beginning to end. My newest book was written much more by the seat of my pants. But I had a sense of where I wanted it to go even though I didn’t “plot it out”.
Thinking about this quote makes me feel the need to research my project. Find out about the people, the time frame, the setting. And by research I mean drafting some rough pieces about the book. Maybe a character sketch or two. Description of landscapes and settings. You know, get to know the place. The problem is, which place? Which story?
I want my next project to be a toboggan ride, just like the last book. I loved letting the characters lead me through the story and unveil the adventure. It was magical at times. How will I know if I’m choosing the right toboggan to get on? Will it speak to me as loudly as my last project did? One can only hope.
I’m curious about your thoughts. How do you pick your projects? At what point does that spark of excitement push your toboggan down the mountain? Click on comments above. And as always, enter your email address to receive updates via email.