It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group! Haven’t heard of IWSG? Click here to sign up! This month’s co-hosts are LG Keltner, Donna Hole, Lisa Buie-Collard and SL Hennessy. Make sure you stop by their blogs and say hello!
Now, let’s get into my insecurity for this month. *Rolls up sleeves*
I was online the other day when I ran across this blog post by author Reese Ryan called “My Quest to Tame the Monkey Mind and Find Focus.” In the post, Reese talks about something I’ve probably been doing for the last year: chasing plot bunnies.
For those of you who don’t know, a plot bunny is a story idea that a writer chases but can’t catch. And because we can’t catch it, we either abandon it, or worse, get distracted by another plot bunny. The cycle repeats itself until one day, a writer finds herself surrounded by a pile of half-finished manuscripts (and candy bar wrappers because, hey: chasing plot bunnies makes you hungry) and asking herself the following questions:
Am I ever going to write a novel or will I spend the rest of my life trying but failing?
Do other writers experience this?
What in the world am I going to do with all these candy bar wrappers???
It’s not a new phenomenon. For centuries authors have been trying and failing to write novels (and then questioning themselves and their ability to write because of that). As the French say: Ain’t nothin’ new under the sun. But as authors, how do we deal? I think the important thing is to allow ourselves to “fail” and not beat ourselves up about it because some of those half-finished manuscripts may very well turn into finished manuscripts one day. Or: you may end up plucking a character out of one of those unfinished stories and using them in something else. I don’t think any story idea is ever wasted. We can always use something from an unfinished project. We just have to figure out what that something is.
So that brings me to my current WIP. Without giving too much away for fear of pissing off my muse, it’s a paranormal story set in a small Louisiana town about a girl whose life changes after a traumatic event. I’ve been chasing this idea for so long I’m embarrassed to tell you. I’ve chased more bunnies than I can count but all roads have led here: I have what seems to be a solid outline and when I put the characters on the page (knock on wood!) they seem to work. But I’m afraid that somewhere down the line, a shinier, newer story idea is going to come along and say (in a Brooklyn accent): “Pssst! Quanie: over here!” And I’m going to look up and go chasing that new idea and abandon the one I’m working on now. Sigh.
What about others? What are you working on currently? And how do you deal with plot bunnies? I’d love to hear your thoughts!