I’m not sure if it’s a ‘thing’, along the lines of Imposter Syndrome and its ilk, but the drive to do something epic, and to be epic, can get in the way of doing anything at all.
They say the hardest part of a journey is taking the first step. For the most part I don’t have that problem; I can start a book easily enough. Where my challenge comes is when finalizing the plot.
I follow a methodical and phased approach to writing novels. I begin with brainstorming, typically with a pint of beer in my hand (“Beer for creativity, coffee for productivity”). I jot down notes in a composition book in a sort of controlled stream of consciousness. If an idea pops into my head, I write it down after a brief second of “Will this work?” review.
As these ideas flow, they start to form a theme or continuum. They also form into groups. I modify them slightly. I’ll write down an idea, then add, “What if the character did X instead of Y?” Yes, I’ll actually write down those kind of questions.
Like I said, it’s a controlled stream of consciousness.
The brainstorming part is easy, and one of the most enjoyable phases of my writing projects.
My challenge comes when I go back and review my brainstorming notes and start to refine that into a plot event list. This is when I start to second-guess myself and doubt creeps in.
Is it epic enough?
I want my stories to ‘wow’ my readers, not just give them a way to kill time. I also want to write stories that I would want to read. They all do that, I make sure of it. The problem I face is that once I’ve figured out the plot, I know how the story ends. It has lost its sense of surprise and wonder, and as soon as that happens, the story can lose its appeal.
At least to me, anyway.
A part of my emotional hardwiring is to never be satisfied with my creations. There is always room for improvement and refinement. This is something I’ve learned about myself as Director of Product Development at eRep.com, a provider of the Core Values Index psychometric assessment. My CVI profile is Innovator/Banker, and Innovators are notorious refiners. One of our biggest flaws is to keep working on something until it’s perfect, which it never is.
Good enough today is better than perfect tomorrow. And perfection is never achieved. There are people who aren’t impressed by J.R.R. Tolkien or Led Zeppelin or Steven Spielberg. And I’m none of those, but apparently I’d like to be based on what I’m describing here.
I am proud of the books I’ve written. Each is more solid and enjoyable than the last. Perhaps I should do my best and stop worrying about being epic. That is a subjective measure and is purely in the eye of the beholder (or eyes, if you’re a D&D fan).