The fear of running out of ideas – Writing Nightmares #11

The fear of running out of ideas – Writing Nightmares #11

Once upon a time, when I was young and foolish, I wanted to be a writer but did nothing to become one. I wanted to write but I didn’t take the time to put the words on paper. I had a journal and started some stories, but never finished one.

I was paralysed by fear, the fear of beginning of course – the fear the catch every writer, but also another one: the fear of running out of ideas.

Sounds stupid?

Well, it isn’t when it stops you from doing something important. The fact is that I had this strange notion that I would have been gifted with only a few strong writing ideas, and I didn’t want to waste those few strong ideas on fruitless attempts. I thought I had to save those ideas, to cherish them for the time when I would have been good enough to do them justice.

How I planned to become a good writer without writing I really don’t know. Yes, of course I used to write something but I was never serious about it. I never committed because I was paralysed by the fear of running out of ideas. It was a sort of writer’s block in advance.

What happened then?

After cherishing and cuddling my ideas for years – yes, this madness went on for years – I got tired of waiting for the right moment and gave up writing. Truth to be told that wasn’t a good period for me. I was at University, far from home, I barely had time to think, let alone write… but this is no excuses.

I gave up on something I used to love because of fear.

That wasn’t me! And that wasn’t destined to end well, but in the mean time – a time that went on for a long while – I kept thinking that it was the right thing to do, that give up on my passion and focus on “important” things was what I was meant to do as an adult. Beside by the time I was convinced that my ideas would have been already used by someone else. So why keep worrying about them?

The problem was that I missed writing, a lot. I continued to write my journal but it wasn’t enough. I craved fiction writing. At a certain point I decided to go for the easy way: I started writing fan fictions, taking advantage of characters someone went to a lot of trouble to create, so that I could produce stories for an already faithful and voracious audience.

Anyway it was better than nothing. I was writing again.

A lot of things happened in the mean time. I graduated, passed the State Exam, found my first temporary job and through this all there were times when I wrote more, others when I wrote less and others when I didn’t write at all.

I reached a point when what I was doing wasn’t enough anymore. Fan fictions and meaningless short stories where fun to pass an afternoon but they weren’t enough anymore. I dwelt about my writing, day after day, coming to the realisation that I had to change something.

What gave me the final push was a book – as simple as that. It was You are a writer (so start acting like one) by Jeff Goins, I believe the headline is self explanatory. That book changed my view about writing. I didn’t commit to writing overnight, but I started changing my frame of mind.

I found the nerve to create a blog where I write in English, then I opened its twin where I write in Italian, then I entered NaNoWriMo for the first time and I wrote the first draft of my first novel. That was the first writing project I wrote from beginning to end.

And you know what happened?

As soon as I started writing, writing seriously, almost every day, ideas and inspiration appeared everywhere. I started seeing stories or topics for blog posts in landscapes, faces, walls; I found inspiration in eavesdropped conversations, newspaper articles, science workshops. I had so many ideas, my imagination was triggered by such a number of impulses that I had to bring a notebook with me to jot down those ideas.

At present I have to revise my first novel before deciding if I want to go the “traditional” road or go for self-publishing. I’m going to complete the first draft of my sci-fic project before the end of the month and I have a notebook full of ideas for at least other five novels.

I don’t plan to run out of ideas any time soon.

And you?

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2 Replies to “The fear of running out of ideas – Writing Nightmares #11”

  1. I have times when nothing comes and then others where I have a flood of ideas and have to filter out the rubbish. Generally, I have enough for the three post a week schedule I’ve set myself.

    You’re right though, the more I write the more I feel inspired to write.

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