Looking at the Forest

Sweet_Chestnut_ForestOkay, confession time.

You know that first spark of excitement when you first get an idea for a novel? That rush you get when the ideas start pouring unfiltered out of your head and onto the whatever piece of paper happens to be close by?

It happens usually without warning, often when we’re drifting off to sleep or killing time in the shower. Sometimes it comes at the most inconvenient times, like in the middle of Church or a meeting with a friend, when you have no access to write it down.

Yeah, thanks brain.

Convenient or no, night or day, wet or dry, that first moment of a novels creation is, I think, one of the best things in the world.

As the characters pour into your head.

As the setting slowly begins to take form.

As the first ideas for dramatic, comical, or gut-wrenching s scenes begin to unfold.

But after the initial rush of excitement and adrenaline, it’s really easy to get discouraged. Writing a novel is overwhelming.


Well, here’s what often goes into writing one. (This will obviously change from writer to writer, but this is my current process for some of my projects.)

Character development
Setting development

Whew. That’s not even including what happens in between stages and after it’s completed. Like finding beta readers. Maybe hiring an editor, and getting it ready for publishing. Marketing, and promotion. Or, if it’s going the traditional publishing route, writing and submitting queries and dealing with rejection.

I look at all of this, shrink back, and think that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. The view is dizzying up here, looking at the forest.

You might say, I have a bit of a fear of heights.


And looking down, I freeze. Instead of writing my next novel, I binge watch shows on Netflix and browse interesting pictures on Pinterest. Nothing happens, I get stressed, so I do nothing, so I get more stressed, so nothing happens and…

It’s a vicious cycle.

But while all of this looks like a lot, (and it is), it isn’t by any means unobtainable. We’ll probably even sleep sometimes along the way.

This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t take time to plan ahead. By all means, we should. The problem is when we try to stay focused on everything at once – instead of taking it once piece at a time.

My point is this: If your next writing project is making you feel overwhelmed (like mine is), then maybe you should stop looking at the forest. For now, just focus on the tree directly in front of you.

Maybe it’s getting to know your main character better.

Maybe it’s delving into the science of teleportation devices.

Maybe it’s just writing that next paragraph that’s been giving you trouble.

Or figuring out the migration patterns of dragons.

Whatever it is, you don’t need to be looking at all that other stuff
to get it done. Don’t eat the whole elephant at once, just eat one
bite at a time. You’ll get there eventually.

For now, all you need to do is write chapter one.


Looking at the Forest — 3 Comments

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  2. Thank you for this post well written and thought of. Writing/Ideas can be very overwhelming. And pinterest doesn’t help sometimes. 😉

  3. An encouraging and relaxing post!

    So… you should only focus on the elephant enough to make sure you are eating the right one.