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Writing Books/a too long idea incubation


QUESTION: Dear Jannie, I'm a published writer here in Indonesia. I'm currently on the making of my second novel, and I have a serious problem I can't solve alone. It's about the idea incubation.

So here I've incubate my idea for nearly 5 months. I think it's too long, really. I usually incubate my idea for 1 week or so. But this is a special case. I haven't got my final idea until now!

My criteria of "final idea", is something that could make me write non-stop, full with exploding enthusiasm, and hence, with that kind of spirit, usually the story will reach the finish line. So I usually choose not to start writing until I get the final idea.

Now, when I don't have that final idea, I can't write my second novel, and it's frustrating. People told me that it's writer's block. But I have tried many ways to overcome writer's block--reading, watching TV/movies, talk to people, but still I failed to get the final idea.

I read a book that said, "Let the idea incubate itself. Don't push yourself to write until the idea reach the final form."

But it has been too long, don't you think? What should I do? Should I keep waiting, or should I write anything I have on my head, even those ideas couldn't give me the exploding enthusiasm?

Oh yes, and P.S, I just accepted a prestigious writing award recently in Indonesia, so you can tell that my name's kinda hot now, and my readers always plead me to release my second novel ASAP! I'm in deadline here! Thank you for the answer.

ANSWER: Congrats on being "hot" right now and for the writing award! That's every writer's dream!

I personally don't wait until I have a final idea, I allow my characters to write it for me.

Most writers do.

I would take what you have and begin writing. Remember, every word is changeable. It's not written in stone.

You are under pressure and that is never an ideal situation to write. Stop putting the pressure on yourself; because your loyal readers are doing that enough.

Write what you have, let your characters evolve, develop, and unfold the sub plots, and the plot of the story. I promise you that they will write that explosive ending that you want.

It's not writers block per se, but more of pressures you've put upon yourself by straying from the norm and worrying about it to the point of blocking your own creative mind.

Write and let it pour out, flow, and develop. The end will write itself when the time is write. And I guarantee, the plot (with the sub plots) will be more than you ever expected or could pre-create and imagine.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for the answer. So here, I really want to be a professional writer, someone who dedicate herself truly to writing. And I thought professional writer is a productive one. But look at me now. What, 5 months thinking about one idea? I'm in college, I was busy back there, but I thought that's not a good enough reason not to finish just one more novel.

I always mad at myself, why can't I be productive? I mean, why? Oh my, I'm sorry for being a little emotional here. But, could you suggest some tips for me being more productive?

Follow Up:

I would suggest carrying a notepad and pen everywhere, and a cassette recorder (preferably a voice activated one) and consistently record and jot down ideas, characters (people you see and meet) places, things, an ideas that pop in your head, your random thoughts about your book's plot and next phase of characters and events, etc. and this will help organize and create for your next sitting.

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Jannie Balliett


I am a published writer, Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing, specializing in novel writing, and creative writing. I can answer most any question concerning writing a book, plot and characterization, tighten the prose, and the editing process, and help advise with publishing and the requirements of obtaining a literary agent.


I'm a published writer, freelancer, and Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing for my two Online writer workshops.

Sisters In Crime Internet Chapter, The Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Brazos Writers Group.

Writers Post Journal magazine, May 2006 issue, Augusr 2006 issue, Nov/December 2006 issue and soon in 2008, On A Whim, flash fiction anthology, offered in Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.

Some college, creative writing, fiction writing

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I have numerous clients using my service through my editorial service and numerous members in my Online writer workshops.

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