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Procrastination and the myth of the Big Idea

The Big Idea: There is a place with no name, hidden in the tip of a needle.


So begins one of my books. So it continues: It hides the needle - which runs lost through a few strands of thread - in a perfect ball of yarn. The ball of yarn is found forgotten inside a chest confused with objects without destinations. The chest has been secured with a nine-door padlock (and nothing is known about the miraculous key). This is the Book of the Secret Family.

I started writing with an idea (not even considering it a Big Idea). I wrote one and a half pages and that was it for the next ten years.

I would say there are three ways to write. The first - the most common for those starting out - is to start with an idea, hopefully a Big Idea, and let the story take shape as we get over the stumbling blocks of starting out without knowing where we are going. I am not making a value judgment: starting this way is not good or bad, it is simply the arduous path that can and usually does lead nowhere. 

The second way is to understand the characters as early as possible. Better before you start writing. Or start writing knowing that the first task is to give shape and behavior to the characters. The second way involves starting to write and having the characters lead the creator to events that they by their nature propose. This is, for me, the first step to professionalization in the creation of new knowledge, be it Creative Writing, music or painting. Later on I will give -perhaps- the fundamental key for a work, regardless of whether or not one knows what it is about in principle, to acquire an internal consistency without which it can hardly be considered a professional work. This, of course, from the ideological perspective that every work of art has.

The Big Idea is overestimated.

The third mode is a system of work. Professional work must always be prepared.

In the history of art the great masters managed to create something new from overcoming the pre-existing. That is, they first understood the proven methods before improving them. This is an unstated principle of intellectual production.

Adopting a system involves knowing what to do no matter what the challenge is. It must be considered as a fact associated with professional work that many times-if not mostly-you will be working to order, which assumes, at a minimum, lead time.

So, a system. I mean, the Big Idea is overrated. And yet, there is a much more powerful ignition point than an idea. It may sound crazy, but coming up with a Title in the first place is infinitely more efficient. There are good reasons for this although they will not be expressed here. 

Next, it is necessary to accept the irreducible fact that the real content of a Story is the Theme. I am putting these words, Story, Title and Theme, with a capital initial so that they are understood as categories of a method (in this case categories of the Character Method- CM).

The Theme is what we really talk about in a Story. It is not what happens: it is the value that gives ideological substance to the Story, for example Love. When a Story lacks a Theme (or has many, which is the same thing), it suffers from an internal fragility that ends up distorting it, making it not very credible.

A painter imagines his finished painting, a musician listens to his piece before writing, a writer develops his Plan of the Work beforehand. What is common to all of them is the Theme, what they want to talk about in the background.

A system of work reduces uncertainty to a minimum and calms anxiety. You only have to dedicate to a Plan of the Work the time necessary to complete the structure and content per chapter of a novel. So when you start writing the projection in delivery time is much more accurate than leaving it to the strict creative evolution. Deadlines are shortened, personal production is increased. So the remedy against procrastination will be planning before a Big Idea. I say this from experience.

What is needed from this is to have a recording system that supports the powerful creative flow.

Photo by Medium Photoclub on Pexels

Author Said Orlando

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