The Mystery Behind the Great Idea

Tell me if this has ever happened to you.

The past few months I have had a great idea for a story. At least I think it’s a great idea. I’ve been wanting to write this story for months and haven’t really gotten around to it. I tried a while back to buckle down and write it, but once I got down to it, I just couldn’t. I have a great first sentence which I’m thinking if (I should say WHEN) I ever get to teach creative writing will be a sentence I use to jump start an assignment, kind of like, “Chris can’t win.” 

So now in my Word document I have this great first sentence and some other sentence and an outline for where I want the story to go but the prose is weak. It’s not enticing it’s trash. After trying to write this story a while ago I decided to give it a rest and work on something else. Thus was birthed my thesis.

Well, this story has been eating at me. I was doodling in class the other night and I had this great idea for the story, another great sentence, I wrote it down and now the itch to work on this story is back in full swing. So, I have decided that once I publish this post I’m not going to rest until I have at least the beginnings of a decent story. We’re talking a page or so. This has happened a few times to me. A story materializes in brain, but I can’t quite seem to nail it down.

I’m much better with deadlines and I’m thinking this story, which I believe has the potential to be fabulous (I hope I don’t sound arrogant. I will say that when I write something solid, something decent I know it. I have one story and two poems  sitting on my computer that need to proofread and sent out because it’s good, I don’t know what’s holding me back. I’m pretty sure it’s laziness. Shame.) I’ve decided to write and share this story at a conference and then send it out in hopes that some literary magazine will find it wonderful.

So, I’m wondering how many of you have great ideas for writing and when you sit down to flesh them out the magic sizzles and fades? It’s been happening to me quite a bit and it’s frustrating.  While I would love suggestions for fixing this, I think mostly I needed to get this problem off my chest. Thanks for listening/reading.

p.s. For those of you in MFA programs that are literature heavy do you have any suggestions for getting through say three lit courses and still having time to write. I’m taking three write now and a screenwriting class, so none of these classes are forcing me to work on my fiction and I do believe it’s stressing me out so much that just reading for class makes my heart beat a little too fast. Help?



  1. Stop beating yourself up! Everyone struggles to transfer those great ideas to the page from time to time-you are not alone. Focus on what you want to say and just start typing. Don’t look back and edit as you go. Keep that forward momentum.
    If you have a character in mind, or a setting or in fact any specific detail why not try some research? Surf the net for similar examples. This can bring things to life and kick start your creative writing.
    I’m running a little competition for some flash fiction. No rules except that the word count should be limited to 300 words. Why not give it a go, it might give you a nice incentive to get stuck in. Give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose!
    Best wishes,


  2. Christian, I’d love more details on this flash fiction contest and again thanks for the support.

    I love the idea of research. Currently in my bedroom sits about twenty books related to my thesis. I just can’t bring myself to dig in. I’m thinking of doing a book a day–taking notes and such. I think I’ll start tomorrow. Why the hell not?

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