Friday, August 22, 2008

I think I'm ADD...?

A few months ago, I had just finished my graphic novel and sent it on to a friend I met at SCBWI-LA for comments. Life went on and I wasn't in the mood to write. But then, STOP THE PRESSES, I GOT AN AMAZING IDEA!!!! Yep. You heard me. I suddenly had my first ever *novel* idea. Make that *YA novel* idea. Hmmm.....

I sat down and began to write. I must say, it was awesome. But then, after about 20 pages, I stopped. Nothing. Yikes! I quickly consulted Laini Taylor's blog 'cuz she is the Queen of writery advice. She assured me that this is normal and just to keep on keepin' on, and the story would come. A day or so went by and then, STOP THE PRESSES, I GOT ANOTHER AMAZING IDEA, for YA novel number two!!!!!! That's okay, right? So, I started on the first riveting 20 pages of said novel. And then, yep, you guessed it. Nothing.

Meanwhile, SF and I have written a really cool screenplay. . .think Bridget Jones going through life as a soccer mom with several funny sidekick friends. It's a coming of age in your 40's comedy. We are in the editing process on this one. (Does this post sound ADD? Stay with me people, stay with me.) Well, I was in Old Navy when SF called and right there, in between the flip-flops and tank-tops, we came up with ANOTHER INSANELY COOL SCREENPLAY IDEA that we were hot to work on! And on the way home, I thought of ONE MORE!!! (Although, I really can't remember that one.)

YIKES!! BRAIN OVERLOAD. Does anyone else do this??

P.S. Let me assure you that since the brain freeze, I sought help from the Wizard Laini and also the Discomermaids and discovered that one needs to, in Laini's words, "Develop a habit of completion."" So SF and I have tabled the new script idea for later, and I am back working on novel number one. Which, if you're wondering, is wicked cool!

But, I'm still tempted sometimes...


Katie said...


I had to edit this dang post like 107 times, due to my shifting ADD-like thoughts when writing it. ha! ha! My mother even called to say, "Um have a zillion typos in there."

Thanks mom :-)

Anonymous said...

My identity will remain a secret, but you're entirely welcome.
Signed, Someone who has never called you honey!

Hardygirl said...

Okay, I have to say that my big problem isn't finishing things--in fact, I'm almost a compulsive "finisher" (it may take me a long time, but I'm gonna get it done).

Here's what always gets me:

Inevitably, I'll be in the grocery store or carpool line when I come up with the KILLA idea. I've even composed entire novellas sitting in the ridiculous, non-environmentally friendly carpool lines we have here in Oxford. You can often spot me sitting in the driver's seat of my minivan narrating a story complete with tears and laughter. Unfortunately, it is usually hours or even days before I can get to a quiet place with a big block of time to write. And you know what happens? The magic is gone. As much as I try to recreate whatever emotional arc moved me to tears, I just can't do it. Whatever I write after-the-fact seems stale.

Am I self-sabotaging? Is this kind of like people who can only sing Broadway-worthy show tunes while they're standing in the shower???

Laini Taylor said...

tee hee, wizard Laini! Love it -- thank you! Believe me, everything on Not for Robots is primarily a reminder to myself and an attempt to overcome my own bad habits. And I can really relate to this -- getting ideas is the *easy part*. It's what come next that makes us writers. I have so many ideas lined up in my head, but I've found that -- thank god -- it does> get easier to learn to stick with one. Having somebody waiting for it -- writing group, agent, somebody, definitely helps. I'm in the very, very early pages of a new book (like, 5 pages; it's an embryo!) and it seems impossible at this stage that it will someday be. . . a whole book. But I'm sure it will. Some day.

Good luck with yours. You can do it!

Katie said...

Mom, you're funny!

SF - that is so crazy that you said that! I also shed tears in the OE carpool line -ha! ha! And not just because it's overly long and boring!! I did it just this week in fact - while composing my big climactic scene in my head. It was that good. But...sure enough, just like you, I couldn't write it later. Bummer!

And how cool that THE WIZARD HAS SPOKEN!! (I'm probably weirding you out Laini ha! ha!) No. But I really love reading your process on your blog. Good stuff!!! Keep it coming. And good luck with the embryo!


Katie said...

I think I've had too much caffeine today. I used WAY too many exclamation points in both the post and my comments.

Goodness gracious!!!!!!

Mac McCool said...

All these projects sound cool! Finish'em all!!

Tyler said...

may I recommend National Novel Writing Month ( for a good dose of "finish-it" medicine. And it's coming up to! But yes, the discipline to actually follow through on finishing a project is something that I think we all struggle with. I should send you my notes from Walter Dean Myers' breakout session last year on "Finishing the Book."

(ps, go check out my page. you shamed me into actually posting again)

Katie said...

T - I want those notes!!!

(I also wrote ya somethin' on your blog :-)

bill cochran said...

I'm so ADD it's ridiculous. I don't know how I've managed to keep a job or get anything done. Ever. I did used to get kicked out of class a lot and I was a terrible student.

I think my ADD could beat up your ADD. But my ADD never shows up to any fights cuz it's always doing something else.

Katie said...

Bill - you're crackin' me up!!

How's the book comin?


Graeme Stone said...

I'm so glad you wrote about this. I was beginning to feel a spell homeless-crazy-street-person-babbling-to-himself coming on. I'm a compulsive "idea" person too. I've got a Word chart that I put everything in, no matter how small. I'm up in the 250 range now, after about 15 years of idea-logging. I've finished maybe 20 of those ideas. But I think the exercise of letting whatever comes to mind flow out is invaluable. And for the 'stream of consciousness' carpool brilliance, get a mini-casette recorder, or an iPhone, or whatever works. The magic of the moment won't be lost when you can hear the words pouring out, the laughter, tears, etc. (if nothing else, carry a small notebook, one that will fit on your steering wheel, and jot down key words or phrases that will trigger your memories later.)
As to finishing, the best idea I ever got was to write what excites you the most. It will carry you through the toughest drafts.
Letting go of perfectionism helps. And Tyler's bit about a quick novel writing contest is a fantastic way to just blast through all those roadblocks. Although an outline helps. And last (but not least from long-winded Stone here) if you want to write spontaneously, write a journal once a day, or tell your kids a story and see where it goes. No expectations, just let it come to life. It's how "Holes" was written and he got pretty far with that.
Tyler! I want the skinny on the contest. Your site is my next stop.

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