When I first began writing in earnest (type it out on the computer and all the nine yards earnest), I would spend
days weeks months agonizing over which story of the ideas bouncing around in my head I should write. Which was worthy? Which one was really, really, really good enough to write down? And I went in eternal circles, never really getting anywhere at all and only snatches of stories getting written down (before getting kicked off the table as “unworthy”).
When I attempted to use this process on my first NaNoWriMo, I would choose a plot, settle into working over the details mentally, then panic that it wasn’t good enough and throw it out and start over. This repeated itself at least three times, until November snuck up on me and all of a sudden, I could angst over it anymore. I had to just jump in.
Unluckily, I chose to go for a whole new plot idea that had received no forethought or consideration beforehand. So it was a bad product. Story wise.
But. I had a novel (even if a poor one).
All those other ideas I turned over, no matter how good any of them might have turned out to be had I written them, the point remained that they weren’t written.
Since then, I’ve discovered the science of what I call “Plotables”; vetting potential stories. When the lightning bolt strikes, I take it to my lab and evaluate an inspiration to see if it passes the test: Is it Plotable? If yes, then it is good enough to write.
If you spend your time in search of the BEST novel that you could write, you are wasting your time.
Because you can write great things, even if they aren’t the “best and beautiful” epic you were in search of. And how disappointing would that be if you did find the One Great Novel and wrote it? What then? “My life’s work is completed”…
To me, there are three golden rules when choosing which story to write:
1. Which one captures my passion the most?
2. Which one feels special to me in a unique way, and/or calls to me with a thrilling excitement?
3. Am I willing to write this story from beginning to end, 100%, all the way through, and give it EVERYTHING I’ve got and that it deserves?
If yes to the above, then I am free to write. It may not be spectacular. It may not look to my eyes like the next new Lord of the Rings. But if I enjoyed writing it, if I gave something to it and it gave back to me, then my time and work was not in vain.
It was totally worth it.
The “best” novel I can write? It’ll never be written. It doesn’t exist.
And I’m okay with that.