What do writers do? We write; we sculpt and mold words into breathtaking displays of art that will, hopefully, endear themselves to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world.
How do writers do this? We touch fingertips to keypads, or mar clean, white paper with ink or graphite sticks; we lay down lines of scratchy, spidery letters or pound out digitally-formed words until letters transmogrify into ruthless villains, romantic love interests, or thrilling action sequences.
What keeps a writer from doing all this? Our Big. Fat. Mouths.
I’ve been in the writing game a lot of years. I picked up a pencil to write before I understood rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling properly. Those things are important to publishing but not to writing. What is important are the stories.
Great things happen to writers when they get an idea. We wake up in the night/wake up in the day/wake up from the boring desk job/wake up from sitting in traffic, kids screaming, to a fantastic vision unfolding. You drive/walk/snatch at your notebook/netbook/desktop and write, trying your best to describe the scene as it whips by at lightning speed. Synapses explode in one great firework show of electrical activity. You feel you could solve the world’s problems in those moments. But all you care about are the people in your imagination. After the orgasmic surge of creativity, the scene before you begins to fade, the pulse jumping in your neck slows, and the world returns in its dull black-and-whiteness. You’re left spent, euphoric. Like any other act that sends you spiraling to the heights of pleasure, you want it back.
Sounds great? It’s fantastic. It’s primal. What messes over the average writer is what happens AFTER.
Enter our Big. Fat. Mouths.
Human nature wants to share anything that makes us giddy. This need to share with others is what starts writers on their road to ruin.
Words are a writers stock and trade. Specifically, putting words onto paper is our stock and trade. When we open our mouths and start “talking” about our projects, we release irretrievable words into the ether. These small releases are tiny leaks. These are “balloon squeaks.” Not a lot lost? No big deal.
Second time is to mention current projects. This happens in social circles. This leak is “slow-steady-and-maintained,” the type of leak that has a finite lifespan. But it’s only a book blurb lost, right?
The near-death of stories is what happens when we need to “brain storm” – the trickiest time of writing. We’ve been good boys and girls, kept our mouths shut and our fingers to the keypad, and written our little hearts out. BUT we reach out for moral support to help us re-achieve the fleeing euphoria we had.
This can be what the author needs to jump-start their tale. It can also be the devastating force that kills a story. There is a fine line between the two. Like with anything, a subject can be talked to death. This is where an author over-talks the story, trying to iron out every wrinkle, before they begin writing or re-writing. This is called the “dam breaker.”
But brain storming verbally can jump-start a derailed storyline. The adage that nobody sees all of the angles, all of the time is true of writing. We know our stories, every crook and cranny, ledge and crack….BUT we may have overlooked something because we were too focused on the main storyline or the main characters. When a writer uses this tool effectively, it’s still a leak. However, an object that becomes over-pressurized can often develop a useful leak, letting off just enough steam to make it “safe” again. This kind of leak I like to call “the Regulator.” It keeps the work in progress at an even keel.
What the author has to realize is happening, and know how to effectively control, is the level of leak. A “balloon squeaker” isn’t harmful, can generate interest among fans, and can garner some much needed input (such as research information); the “slow-and-steady-and-maintained” is most often used to elicit stimulus of the fan-base, and can whip followers into a frenzy for an upcoming project. Using “the Regulator” to keep a story rolling when it’s flaccid is great, but know that this type of verbal brain storm is a slippery slope. Authors can and will find themselves the victims of a “dam breaker” in short time if they don’t learn to harness their Big. Fat. Mouths.
B.C. Brown writes mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction and fantasy but is always in the mood for a challenge to branch out. You can learn more at her blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon.
15 thoughts on “Big. Fat. Mouths. by B.C. Brown”
You nailed it! Once you start "talking" about your idea you've let it loose and other minds have it rummaging around inside them. Next thing you know, the story comes back with a slightly different twist because of what someone says. Now you're rethinking and rewriting and that brilliant original idea isn't the same . . . ever again. But, wait! Maybe that story's better for the change. Or could it be that it's worse? We'll never know.
Precisely. When we let the idea out in the world, it changes, it adapts. People (especially other author friends) love to chime in, share ideas. Sometimes this is fantastic; you garner ideas you'd never considered, angles unseen. Sometimes, however, it can send you so far back to the drawing board you end up thinking yourself into a corner. All because you are reluctant to go back to your original idea. It is awfully difficult to put the worms back in the can, after all.
Yes, I have definitely been on both sides of those possibilities. And while these same thoughts have been rolling around my mind I had not articulated them. Thanks for a wake-up call.
Aw, shucks. I do what I can. lol
Which is one of the reasons I don't like talking too much about work in progress…thanks for the post!
Thanks for putting this into words! When I do get so excited I have to tell someone my idea, it's a rare occurrence and usually only ends in disappointment, because the reaction can never be as enthusiastic as I felt in that moment. That's when the doubt starts….
Oh, doubt – the next big killer of ideas. I have another post on this as well. It's aired on my blog already, but maybe it would be a good follow up in IU is interested. I'll check. 🙂
Oh boy, you've hit where I'm at and I'm having a hard time getting out of that rut…the brainstorming part. I need to get back to focusing on my characters and their story, I think. Thanks for a great post.
And Krista, so you are so right about 'the reaction can never be as enthusiastic as I felt in that moment' – Right on with that one.
Jacqueline, you may have to stop thinking about it entirely. My latest project was stuck in the proverbial holding pattern for months, its final approach circling above the tarmac for ages. I found I had to stop thinking about it entirely. I even went so far as to change my production schedule (you know, bumping up a book ahead of this one for publication). That finally did the trick. But so did me using the Regulator to blow off some pressure and get it back on track.
All the best on yours and BREAK A PEN!
Yeah, I don't ever talk about a work in progress. If forced to, I mutter insanely…
If I feel the need to blather about my latest great idea, I have to type it up. If I try to tell a non-writer, the reaction is usually a polite nod and a vacant look. At best.
The last time I opened my big. fat. mouth. it nearly killed my WIP. I have learned to shut up for the most part lest the same thing happen again. Great post!
All true! Thanks!
Yet sometimes interruptions are the external ones, people needing feeding, a wasp that needs putting out. The trick is to hold the idea in one's brain.
I will take the liberty to fix up the grammar/typos and share it with a workshop I lead, Re-Create Your Life: Creative Memoir Writing, crediting you of course.
Feel free to share away! And, of course, clean away. I realized I'd missed a couple of things after I sent it. Ah, well, the product is never as clean as I'd like it to be. Thank goodness for editors!
I'm always interrupted by external distractions. Holding the idea in my brain has never been an issue for me, but I can see that it might be for others. I'll have to think on that more. Thanks!
It is difficult to continue on a project when you hear so many negatives about the subject matter you have chosen. A writer has to shut the chatter out, and finish the work. If it falls flat, there is always another book. But, we don't know how a book will be received unless we finish what we are working on, and publish it.
Thanks for this post!
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