So I am one week into my one month challenge to stay committed to a single idea.
I would not call this first week a rousing success, since it took me pretty much the whole week to settle on a single idea to pursue. Various factors came together, though, and I now have a single cohesive idea to pursue for the rest of the month.
Is it the perfect idea? No, of course not. In fact, it may be the dumbest and craziest idea I’ve worked with, but it’s fun and it’s an idea and that’s all that matters.
In working to find the idea that I’m really only committed to for the month, I realized the biggest source of doubts that truly destroy ideas is not fear of what other people might think. I mean, it crosses my mind that this setting or that character or that plot twist might be cheesy or predictable or one letter shy of copyright infringement, but I can dismiss those thoughts with a reliable stream of “Who cares? You only live once; let the chips fall where they may; etc.”
Where the stronger doubts come from is what I think, or at least what I’m thinking at any particular moment. It’s when I say, purely in my own opinion, that I might not like that character, or that story, or I might not be able to write that setting, that the story falls apart. It’s not even about trying to be “good enough,” since I recognize the need for revision and growth and trial and error. It’s about wanting an idea that I love, that I would want to read, that I would be obsessed with. It’s about wanting to write the idea that’s “truly me.”
The problem is I lack the self-awareness to be able to definitively tell what I really want, or what idea might be “truly me.” Every idea has some elements that I like and think suit me, and other elements that I don’t like (or it lacks certain elements I thought I needed). And any given moment, any throwaway thought or passing trailer or casual review over the water cooler, reminds me of what I thought I wanted that my current idea doesn’t have. Or it reminds me about the things in my current idea that I don’t want. And I spiral off into oblivion.
So the rest of the one month challenge is about fighting those doubts. It gets harder as I develop more and more details of the idea, since every choice eliminates options and seizes hold of others that are not perfect (because perfect doesn’t exist). But the “just one month” mantra at least gives me something concrete to hold onto as I struggle to commit.
If you think struggling to commit for three weeks is a bad sign, you’re right. The fact that it’s a struggle at all might mean writing is not in the cards for me. But I will stay committed for the next three weeks, and… I’ll go from there.