Chosen road

Project Bayonet: 1021 words

Project Wishbone: 659 words (quite a few of them written close to midnight last night, sitting on the edge of a concrete plant pot on Piccadilly station’s platform 13)

I’ve met a number of people over the years with writing ambitions. A lot of them never finish a piece of work (and quite a few never even start). It struck me, while I was writing yesterday (at that giddy position at the start of a novel when you’re breaking into your stride and anything is possible) that the reason for this lack of closure on a project might be precisely because… anything is possible. You start out with that sheet of blank paper – same as any other writer – and the limitless possibilities can cause you to freeze. Even when you have an idea, there are what feels like an infinite number of options available to you. Your character is sitting at a table, drinking a cup of coffee. What happens next? What doesn’t happen next? A guy walks in holding a bucket full of eels. There are an endless number of reactions to that. An endless number of avenues to explore. You become stifled because you think choice A might not be as good as choice B, never mind choices N, T and Y. A plan can help, but you can lose yourself down a similar rabbit hole when you’re working out the plot. So you grit your teeth and plunge in, go with what occurs to you. ITV it, as one colleague of mine at Channel 4 was fond of saying: Intuit the Vibe. Much of writing is seat-of-the-pants anyway. You want to reach a point where you’re barely in control, where the characters are kind of dictating what happens next. Don’t panic. That’s good. Let it happen. If you muck it up, you can always retrace your steps and try something different. Kick the bucket out of his hand. Call the cops. Stick your head in.


One thought on “Chosen road

  1. It’s that number of infinite possibilities that become available to writers that puts me off of writing fiction. That’s a really, really scary concept, I find. Like a probability tree presenting itself to you at early planning stages, spreading out across the universe with infinite branches. As with some things in life, the grass can always appear greener from a different angle, and it must be very hard to have discipline and stick with certain ideas/constraints. Even if you can unwind backward, you might potentially have let even more viable ideas out of the bag as you go down one route, so it must be complicated.

    Thus I find it far better to read and enjoy someone else’s output, whatever methods they’ve used in getting there. Is that cowardly: totally; is it less stress: oh yes; more enjoyable for myself: almost always. Good luck with the writing.

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