One-Month Challenge: Update Two

Two weeks into the one-month challenge, or halfway through. I haven’t reached drafting yet, or even gotten too close, but I’m closing in on having a definitive plot that I can outline—and after that, drafting should be soon. I’m hoping within the next week.

It’s been a really interesting experiment, so far successful in that I’m still working with the same idea I had a week ago. This isn’t the longest I’ve stuck to a single idea, but it’s on the longer side of my recent attempts, which means the experiment is working. But I’ve still got two weeks to go.

And I’ve faced my share of doubts in the last week. The first came last Monday, when I was struck by the fierce desire for something completely different from my idea in setting. Such a fundamental piece of the idea cannot be changed and have it be the same idea, which meant the doubt had the potential to spin pretty far out of control. And just gritting my teeth and trying to make it through to the end of the month would have been more difficult than I would care to face.

So my solution was to allow myself a second idea—but only in thought. My work, my notes, my progress had to remain with the original idea. But while I was at work or listening to music, if I wanted to think about this other project, I could. Giving myself that freedom without the guilt let me keep my main project going, since I didn’t feel it was my only option in the long run. And, actually, after a couple days I stopped thinking about the second project and returned wholeheartedly to the main idea with even more commitment.

A stronger doubt hit me yesterday, though. I started reading a book that I had picked up in order to get some sense of a similar genre/story—and anyone with a brain could guess what happened next: it was too similar. Or rather, it had several elements that sounded like what I am planning to do with my story, and so the doubts lunged at me.

First, I have to take a deep breath and accept that my idea will never be original, but also that my execution of the idea can still be original in the details. Second, I reminded myself of the major (and minor) differences between the stories, in nuances and settings and characters. Third, I try and think of all the stories out there that are similar to each other and still make it. And finally, as a last resort, I tell myself that seeing an idea through and actually writing it out will teach me so much more than I could ever imagine, and it will be a worthwhile exercise even if I can’t share it.

Whether it’s the one-month thing or just that I have an interesting idea, I have been able to fend off the doubts easier than usual. They’re still there, hovering, but I know that no matter what I will always have doubts. Living with the doubt and still creating anyway is the eternal struggle of the artist, and I have to learn to embrace that challenge and rise above it.

So far, so good with the one-month challenge. But as we get further and further into the details of the story rather than just the vague shape of the idea, things get harder.

Two weeks down, two to go.

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About J. Sevick

Just write.
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