Dear Mary, I'm a very creative person. The trouble is, I'm too creative for my own good! I currently have 12 book ideas that I'm playing around with. I write a few pages on one, take a break, move on to another manuscript and jot down some plot changes and then go on to yet another project. This goes on and on.
In the last five years, I've started at least fifteen novels and haven't completed any of them. My friends tell me I'm lucky I have so many great ideas, but I don't feel lucky. I feel like I'm being assailed by a barrage of bullets! How can I concentrate when I have so many ideas bubbling around in my head. And why am I doing this?
If you have any advice or solutions for me I'd really appreciate it. I've always wanted to be a novelist. In fact, it's the only thing I really want to do and now that I'm retired, I finally have the time to do it. What's holding me back? Is it possible that I'm just too creative? Signed, Way too Creative
Dear Way Too Creative, well, first of all, I think you should stop talking to your friends about your unfinished projects. It saps the energy from them. I never talk about book ideas before the book appears in print. And no, it's not because I'm afraid someone will steal the idea, ideas are a dime a dozen. It's just that it really does seem to drain the energy and excitement from the creative project when you gab about it first.
That's one point. The other is that your friends are probably being kind when they agree that you're "too creative." No one is telling James Patterson that he's too creative and according to a recent NY Times article, he works on 23 projects at once! He has a big U-shaped desk that goes around the perimeter of a room and he walks along, making notes on manuscripts, adding a page or two, an idea or two as he progresses. Of course, he has co-writers, which certainly helps!
But to get back to your problem. There are a lot of reasons why you are procrastinating and I'd have to know more specifics to be helpful. However, off the top of my head, it could be based on fear. Fear of failing, fear of writing a book that doesn't set the world on fire, etc. Fear that you're wasting your time. I don't know what your expectations are. Fear and anxiety can lead to paralysis.
Another reason for procrastinating is perfectionism. I have a friend who insists she can't go forward with her novel (she's been on chapter three for a couple of years now) because she has to visit Charleston to see the dining room of an historic house. Really? That's insane. The section on the dining room will take up a couple of paragraphs at most and a lot of readers skip over descriptions. And she can see a photo pf the dining room online. How much detail does she really need?
A lot of people talk about writing. Not too many actually do it. As Jackie Collins said, "If it were easy, everyone would do it."
Why not write to me again with a few more specifics and I'll give you some tips on moving forward with one of your projects. And thank you for writing! It's always good to hear from fellow writers, no matter what stage they're at in the process.
By Mary Kennedy