It doesn’t matter what your job is – whether you’re a corporate cubicle dweller, a nomadic laptop lifestyle entrepreneur or a school bus driver – you can learn a vital idea lesson from the fiction writer.
Fiction writers can be divided into two distinct camps: plotters and pantsers.
A What? Plotter or Panster?
Plotters love to create an outline of their ideas, and then search for affinities to develop new ideas from, while pantsers (you write from the seat of your pants) like to throw ideas onto the page as they come up with them – then wrestle them to the ground and force them at gunpoint to fit into the story.
Allegedly, both methods of idea generation are equally valid. Though I am sure, you’ll have your thoughts on which one sounds a bizarre method of idea dumping.
Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on, both types of authors have a familiar concept that helps them carve a spellbinding story from the big hunk of wood in front of them. It’s affectionately called “killing your darlings.”
Kill Your Darlings
Having allowed some characters the space to breathe and become what they are to be, the author decides it’s time to put a gun to their heads and pull the trigger.
Either the character has fulfilled their purpose in the greater scheme of things, and it’s time to see them go – or they didn’t work out as having long-term potential.
Some ideas are perfectly fine to kick-start other ideas but hold no part in the overall scheme of things. Others you may follow up on, and although they may work to an extent, they may not be viable in the long term.
Either way, you need to pull that trigger!
Don’t hold on to an idea because you think it might work out someday. If you tried it and it didn’t work, ditch it. A cluttered up virtual table of junk ideas will only tie you down to various dead ends. Focusing on one actionable idea will yield multiple times the results that many unfocused ideas will.
Don’t ditch a darling that you haven’t focused on and given its chapter to – if it’s been a bit player, you may not have seen its potential as the main character. Focus appropriately on your idea and do what’s necessary to drive it forward rather than half-heartedly dabble with it – because it may be just the idea that changes your life if you give it space to breathe.