There’s nothing quite as intoxicating as potential.
Whether it’s the heady excitement of a new relationship, or the mind-spinning birth of a new idea, that hinted-at potential draws us in, hooks us, and keeps us coming back for more.
When I ended my unproductive writing session the other day, I knew nothing had come of it. Radiohead had failed me.
And yet, for the rest of the evening and during the next day, a single phrase I had written kept popping into my head. “I can’t do anything with this,” I thought, and pushed it aside, but it was doggedly persistent. Just that one phrase, repeating in my mind, over and over until–
I was stunned into disbelief at first. Plot ideas are few and far between for me, and I hoard them like precious gems. This new story idea seemed almost completely unrelated to the random phrase that had been circling my thoughts for two days, but I’ve learned not to question the strange paths my mind sometimes takes to get to its destination.
So now I have it. A lovely, shiny idea of my very own. The inspiration I’ve been wanting, needing. These early stages are always so exciting–the possibilities seem endless, and your new, tiny bud of a story has so much potential contained within it. Anything could happen!
But I know that potential can only take you so far. Eventually the glitter begins to flake off, and the shiny thrill of it grows dull and stained. What was once a retreat into a paradise of possibility begins to feel a whole lot like work. And it’s at this point that you can either give up and move on, eyes wide and on alert for the next fresh start; or you can take a deep breath, narrow your focus, and push through the ennui.
I’ll admit that I’m not such a pro at powering through the tough stuff. Master of half-baked ideas and brilliant plans and unfinished projects, it’s the seeing-it-through that always gets me in the end.
I’ll have to scrape together some of this ‘discipline’ everyone is always talking about and see if I can actually realize some of this bottled-up potential after all. That’s the key, isn’t it? Discipline.
Well, discipline and caffeine.