Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Overcoming moments of madness

Everyone has moments of madness in their lives, where we get impulsive and do things we usually would not do. Later, we may end up regretting, or applauding ourselves for the rest of our lives. depending on the consequences of our actions.

We writers have several of these impulsive moments wherein we take up writing projects that we would normally not touch. I feel there are mysterious forces responsible for our bursts of literary genius. It’s during these moments that we are tempted to chose themes for our WIP. Themes that can range from the completely bizarre to the weird, from the wild and wacky to the strange and quirky. What starts off with an initial burst of promise sometimes takes just moments to fizzle out, and sometimes after several pages have been filled.

After I have penned down a few chapters, doubts crawl into my mind space about the commercial and literary potential of what I considered a future masterpiece. What if the manuscript finds no publishers? Will the editor approve of it, or will it be relegated to the slush pile?

 I have many unpublished manuscripts that were undertaken during those mad moments, but, after the first draft, they remained at the bottom of my drawer. I am not sure if I will ever rewrite them. 

I have realized that there are ways I can tackle my moments of madness, so that I don’t have piles of manuscripts lying unpublished and that I have not wasted time on commercially unviable projects that are a definite hardsell. Nowadays, only after I am certain that the theme/topic is worth pursuing, do I invest my time and effort in the manuscript. It’s pretty heartbreaking to be stuck with manuscripts that just won’t make the shift to the book form. Not every super idea can translate into a great book.

For every mad moment I have, I try to balance it with plenty of reasoning: practical, sensible and sound thinking.

1. Is the theme suitable for that age group?

2. Will the topic appeal to the target readers?

3. Will my treatment and writing style match the theme?

4. Will the reader follow the main character page after page? 

5. Does it have a conflict worth getting involved in for the readers? And for me too, as the writer? 

If the answers to all the questions turns out to be in the affirmative, only then do I plunge into the process of writing.

How do you all tackle your mad moments? Do you rush to put everything down on paper, invest weeks maybe months in a project only to shelve it halfway through, or do you weigh the merit of the theme, stack up the odds against the evens, before undertaking a project? Do you have moments of madness? Do you have manuscripts that you abandoned half way through? We would love to hear all your stories.


  1. Sure Rachna, these moments of madness exist in my case. I started to write and gave up after 50 odd pages! That project is yet to see the light of the day! I now focus on short write ups till I decide about the bigger project:)

  2. i try to collect lots of little ideas, each with something cool about them, and only when I have enough of them that I can throw into the one story do I write anything longform.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  3. Think we all have these, Rachna, just have to shout them down or tell them to go away. :0)

  4. I usually mull over the idea for a few days, maybe write the first few pages, or write it down in my "story ideas" notebook.

    Then if it stays with me, I pick it back up again and look at it objectively. :)

  5. I usually know whether or not my idea is something worth pursuing. I never throw anything away. All words that I don't use for one reason or another, such as deleted words and the like, go into a special file, you never know what story will come along that needs those particular words.

    Great post, Rachna. I'll see you in a few. *waving*

  6. I've got a few of these, too. They're from before I knew better. I don't consider them a waste, but I'm glad I didn't pointlessly pursue editing and querying them.

  7. My desk is testimony to a few mad moments - small pieces of paper with ideas scribbled on them, books placed here and there...I am a neat person, but you would not know it looking at my desk sometimes. I like to think that I am an artist in progress. :)

  8. Eep, I have to confess I have unfinished mss sitting in my folder somewhere. Also unfinished short stories because I got distracted by a different idea. It helps to focus on one and not look at the others--no peeking whatsoever. So yeah, mad moments? Definitely had them.

  9. Hi Friends...its nice to know that I am not alone when it comes to being caught in the grip of moments of madness. Its something that has ensnared you all too. Nowadays, until I am very sure about a writing project, I don't undertake it at all.

  10. I have a thing, a thing not to enter into madness and thinking of it makes me one. It's really an awkward moment when you are all set up to write some article and then you end up nowhere but on the microsoft word staring for hours and we have not begun yet.

    Thanks for the tips on what and how to write depending on the audience or the readers.

  11. These are great questions to ask yourself. I ask these questions when I first come up with an idea, and explore them further as I start to write an outline. I have many unfinished outlines, but it's better than a full manuscript ;)

  12. Yes, I can relate to this. I have often written stuff in moments of "suspended sanity" and hidden them away. (Actually, there was a time when I initially put everything away for a period and then took it out again to see it afresh. I still think that not a bad idea.) But back to the mad texts! Most of them do get rewritten or incorporated in some longer script after a time. It's usually me that has to change more than the script before it seems ok.

  13. True, it is as if u read my mind.....I am very impulsive. Thank god for delete button.

  14. I used to have more moments of madness. I'm more sedate now, but surely it's the moments of madness that are the creative inspiration to produce that masterpiece? ;O)

  15. I say go with the mad moments and write these things out. And THEN ask all those questions. Every mad manuscript develops your skills, and not every one deserves to lie in your file cabinet, unexplored.

  16. You have to write down your ideas and thoughts as you have them, even if they'll never be used, on not used right away.

  17. I think that those mad moments are like dreams. Something is in there , an idea, thought, perhaps a frustration that you are trying to work out.

    But like a dream, it can leave you wondering what it was all about... Not sure that was any help at all...

    I think you are a poet, writer, story teller... so keep going!

    Bless you, dear one.

  18. ...I mull it over for days at a time, beating it down, building it back up, one word at a time, all the while debating whether or not its worth the effort.

    Once the fingers begin however, the keys remain busy for quite some time ;)