The lazy writer’s take on how to tell if an idea has run its course

I’m in trouble.

Well, it’s not the kind that warrants a search team, but it goes beyond what anyone could imagine. My story idea has run its course. You know the way you sit on that matatu and start talking to a stranger and then after the fare, the traffic, the music, the bore of city life- you run out of stories and small talk suddenly comes to an end with plugged in earphones? Well, something like that, but I am a Writer, I am never short of ideas, right? WRONG.

Okay, I did not mean to defy grammar back there, but you know sometimes writing in Caps is like venting all that anger on a screen? Man, I love CAPS. So, where was I, yes, the lazy writer’s guide on how to know an idea has run it’s course.

My Mentor has not received any drafts from me in four months and his text this morning read: You are becoming a lazy Writer. Send me a manuscript, a poem, anything, just write it! I thought:


Writers have lots of ideas and once you have published a book, the question everyone asks is ‘when is the next book coming out?’ You know, like it is locked in your house and one day it will be free to roam the world. But, some ideas are just that, ideas, and when it comes to plots, most stories never make it to the finished book. There is a reason we have texts, blog posts, articles, pamphlets, novellas, and then novels.

So,how do you tell that an idea has run its course or that story you are working on will never go far?

Here’s what this lady thinks:

  1. You can’t write anything else. You have gotten to the point where you cannot find the words to continue the story.
  2. You wake up and do other stuff and only come to write when you feel like it. You cannot seem to force yourself to get the words out.
  3. You cannot help the frustration. When you start to feel as though you could strangle the words you have written for causing you so much misery- abort the mission. Earth to Writer, abort! Abort! Your imagination is far more important than your stress levels!
  4. The characters are the same. There is no change on them or the cause they are fighting for. If you have ten typed pages and nothing changes in the characters, please set it aside.

If you look closely you will notice two things with what I have shared: frustration and being stuck. Those two do not have mercy on writing and more so the writer.

So, what do you do when it seems like the story was so great in your head but in paper it’s ashes?

  1. Set it aside.
  2. Do not, and for the sake of the life of words, do not trash what you have written. Back up everything you have written, however awful, it might just make it into your next book or story.
  3. Go out, watch a movie, sing along to a song on the radio, take awkward selfies, read a book. There’s more to life outside your mind.

And then when you are ready, you can come back to it or move on to the next idea that comes, but if there’s one thing I have learned it’s that having a folder of story ideas, always comes in handy when an idea fizzles out.


5 thoughts on “The lazy writer’s take on how to tell if an idea has run its course

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