Warring Muses

Adventures in novel writing. Internal chatter and trying not to sound like a crazy person.

Is it ever a bad thing to have too many ideas? To have more than one story whirling around in your mind? I guess that depends on how your brain filters and manages the internal chatter.

I was really excited to begin this year with work on my World War One story, Here Lies a Soldier. I’ve continued my research and note taking for points to include in the story but all the while other voices have been ‘whispering’ in my ear. (Not literally. I promise I’m not crazy. I think…) Small Cuts is a piece that was inspired by a dinner out with friends. A dinner in which I was left largely out of the conversation and free to observe the diners at the tables around me. (This is not a complaint about my experience at dinner, mind you. I am always a ready and willing observer of people.)

After initially writing the opening scene from one perspective, I expected to be done with it. But then another figurative finger tapped on my shoulder and indicated that she wanted to talk. Who am I to pick and choose when there is another side to the story? The same thing happened with the other members of this quartet until finally I’d ‘spoken’ to all of them, gained insight into what each of them was experiencing, feeling and remembering. Now I was done. Or was I?

I had no plans to pick up the thread of this story, but one by one, each of these characters began to continue their report of the events that evening. I had no choice but to listen and record. Yep, sounds crazy.

Such is the life of a writer. In your world, characters talk to you and to each other. It often keeps you awake at night. It makes your mind wander in the middle of a family gathering, a business meeting or during a class. Your family, friends, coworkers and teachers are not amused. Sometimes those internal conversations are so real to you that you continue them out loud, to the confusion of those around you.

The thing is, that internal chatter is essential to good writing.  “Hearing” the voices talking, listening to an invisible narrator spin a tale, visualizing the scene, debating the sides of an issue during conflict;  that is writing, writing without committing the words to paper.

But what if there’s a bunch of different ‘voices’ talking and shouting over the others? My dilemma is whether I should write both stories simultaneously or focus on one over the other. I have already delayed the writing of the war story to finish a novel in my series and I’m not inclined to push it off again. Can I successfully write both stories together? Perhaps. They are different enough from each other not to overlap in plot or dialogue. Each story would only be a first draft, but… how does the saying go? The only bad first draft is the one you haven’t written. So are two first drafts better than one? Do you see how I keep asking questions in this post instead of providing answers? This is me thinking out loud. I really haven’t figured out how to negotiate peace between the warring muses and let all the sides have their say.

Thanks for listening to the ramblings of a crazy writer!

42 thoughts on “Warring Muses

  1. My experience with too many ideas swirling around is that I tend to try to use them all at once. So, in the context of writing songs, it really causes me to lose focus on the original idea.

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    1. I can see that happening. And I might find the same thing with two stories as well. At a minimum, I will try to take extensive notes on one while I concentrate on the other!

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  2. That must be what it’s like to be a medium. I don’t think I’d be able to manage both at the same time. I’d prefer to finish one then revisit the next one. But, Im not a writer, so what the hell do I know?

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    1. Yeah, I’m not too confident either. I’m very conflicted. I tell myself it’s not like there’s a deadline, so work on whatever seems to be flowing more naturally. They’ll both get finished eventually!

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  3. I have a computer, and a head, full of a mixture of sentences, paragraphs, chapters, single words, pleasing phrases, and random rhymes. I’ve been on the lookout for a blender that will churn them all up into something that tastes a little sweet!

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  4. There’s no rule that says you can’t work on both at the same time. If one is pulling at you more, focus on that, then maybe devote a small block of time to the one that’s not as intense. Sort of a “palate cleanser” to clear the ideas out of your brain and onto paper.
    When I have too many ideas floating around (i.e. always!) it becomes overwhelming and I retreat and don’t write any of them. I applaud your ability to obey your voices. 🙂

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    1. I’m in a bit of a mental explosion actually. 😜 I probably will keep at both of them and see which one flows better. Or I could just take a break and write neither. Might not be a bad plan….

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  5. Dear Meg, can you really suppress the internal chatter? Inspiration comes when it comes, and to ignore it can result in the possible loss if not the death of an idea that may never return. My vote is to work on both stories at the same time. ~ Mia 🙂

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    1. Ahh! Thank you, you know I agree with that. I’m just going to roll with it and see what develops. You can imagine how ‘noisy’ it is with the quartet alone. 🙃 I really do think a rough first draft is neve3r a bad thing. The polish can come later. Thanks as always, Mia! 💗

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  6. I would work on only one… but whenever thoughts or ideas or voices spoke to me about the other project, I’d write those down for use later.

    Maybe I’m just deficient in the brain area, but I don’t think I could do two at once and have them both turn out well. But that’s just me. 😀

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    1. I’ve written short stories at the same time as I was in the midst of a novel, and truly I’m not sure how long Small Cuts is going to run. I just don’t want to postpone the WWI story any more. Ah, I’ll end up going whichever way the wind blows. 😜

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    1. Well… I was excited to return to the war novel, but then I started getting all these ideas for the other story. I can’t say I feel more strongly about one over the other. However, the Small Cuts story does seem to have a mind of its own. 😯🙂🙃

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  7. This interested me, thanks. Especially the bit about being left out of the conversation whilst with friends at dinner. This upsets me when it happens as I struggle to get my voice heard (hence why I am writing!) but I like the idea of being the observer of people – I’ll try this next time!

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    1. I feel that way too. Nobody wants to listen to me. But it does free you up to listen and observe – two essential strategies for finding story ideas!

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  8. I’ve got a sitcom screenplay to finish by next week, and should be putting in time on that… but the only thing in my head is a further chapter of the “alien spaceman on the doorstep” story! Honestly, I don’t know which one I’ll spend my time on today, but the warring muses problem is a real one!

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    1. A screenplay! Al, that’s so exciting! It figures that the alien spaceman would interrupt at such a crucial time. Wishing you the best of luck! And do keep us posted!

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  9. I totally understand! All the characters speaking to me is how I came up with the idea to start 26 different stories. I’ll let the readers decide which ones I work on going forward, but if some of the characters are really insistent, I may write their stories anyway!

    Jayden R. Vincente
    Erotic Fiction Writer

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