Friday, November 30, 2012

Ambitious Writing Projects; Or, the Big Idea

All writers have them.  If you love books, love the written word, love stories that suck you in utterly and completely and don't let you go, then you probably have one or two Big Ideas.  They are the stories that you have been thinking about, dreaming about, since you were a kid or first even considered writing as more than a hobby.

I have a couple of Big Ideas.  They began as tiny seeds and have grown in my imagination bigger and bigger - but they aren't quite trees yet.  They're still just sprouts or maybe saplings. In other words, I don't know when I will be skilled enough to write them.

Because that's the problem with ambitious writing projects: if you have any self-awareness as a writer, you know what you're capable of.  I, for instance, could never write a multi-generational saga like Alex Haley's "Roots" or epic high fantasy like JRR Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." I love both of those books and I admire the hell out of them but I know I am not skilled in those areas of writing.

Some writers tackle their Big Idea over and over again.  They try it this way and that, tinkering with it in different ways, some successful, some not. They may even publish these stories over and over again as well.  For them it may be a particular character or theme that keeps them pushing forward. But I'm not like that.  I'm afraid of taking my Big (Cool) Idea and screwing it up.  I'm afraid of not having the right skills to do the Big (Cool) Idea justice. 

In recent weeks, I have been approaching one of my Big Ideas with caution. After successfully completing a novella that was miles away from what I had been writing for publication, I feel like I may be able to attempt one of my ambitious writing projects.