Sometimes when I'm writing, the ideas come fast and furious and it's all I can do to keep up with them. I'm thinking of all the plots, and wanting to write all the things, and my head feels as though it can't contain all the shiny story possibilities that are sending it into red-line overload.
And then there are the other times.
The times when I reach a point in a plot, and the answer won't come. The characters stare at me, and I wish they'd stop, and no matter what I do, the solution to ‘what happens next' just won't show up.
It's in there. I know it's in there. But no matter how I pound my head on the desk/wall/keyboard, the answer won't come out.
Until one day, when suddenly the solution pops up out of nowhere and all I can think is “And where the *% have you been this entire time?!?”
Those days are great. Those days are frustrating. Those days are part of what it means to be a writer, I suppose.
After a few rounds of this happening, I was talking it over with my husband, and he gave me the metaphor I think I'm going to use to describe this from now on:
Hailstone ideas hover in the clouds, there but unseen and inaccessible. They slowly accumulate until one day they just drop (occasionally to land smack-dab on top of your head).
And nine times out of ten, they're awesome.
They're the terrific plot points that make you just shiver in anticipation of writing them. They're the ideas that make you rub your hands together and cackle like a mad scientist over an experiment that's finally working.
Or maybe that's just me.
But the thing I've learned about hailstone ideas is: you can stop and wait for them to show up, but they'll show up a lot faster if you keep going. Keep writing. Keep plugging along, even if the section of story you're in doesn't quite feel right, because hailstone ideas accumulate more quickly when your brain is active and working on the problem.
Until one day that idea – that solution – will just drop out of nowhere.
And it'll be awesome.