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Monday, December 20, 2010

Buyer's Writer's Remorse

Here during the Christmas season retailers everywhere are shouting for joy as eager buyers crawl through their stores shopping for bargain presents. It's also a time for impulsive buys, maybe more so than average, as things go on and off sale, and you always want to think you're getting the best deal possible.

Impulsive buys (and non-impulsive ones) can lead to buyer's remorse. This phenomenon refers to that feeling of regret one has after buying something....and the larger the price tag, the greater the regret.

I thought it might be appropriate to consider writer's remorse at this time, since it correlates so well with the above.

Writer's remorse is the sensation of being less-than-pleased with the results of a new story idea you just started. This might happen in many ways. You finally start the killer story idea rattling around your brain for months on the back burner while you were editing another story. Once you do, you might wonder if this story isn't so killer after all. The characters seem flat. The plot lifeless. Your motivation null.

Did you wait too long to start it from the time you conceived the idea to actually beginning to type? Perhaps another idea takes root almost as soon as you've started your Chapter One, and now it's competing for your attention. Either way, you're just not pleased with what you're working on and wonder if it's too late to jump ship (or return your purchase).

Any of you have any experience with this?

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Lisa Nowak said...

I think it's fairly natural when you're a few chapters into a first draft to think it's utterly worthless and will never amount to anything. You don't know your characters well enough, problems keep cropping up with plot details, and you wonder if your 'fresh' idea is really that interesting after all. I've never thought of it as buyer's remorse, but I can see how that comparison works. My solution is to trust my initial instincts and keep plugging along. That's worked for me so far.

Anna Tatelman said...

Oh, this happens to me all the time. I agree that it's completely natural. Going along with your shopping metaphor, of course the item that's just out of reach is going to look far more beautiful than the one you purchased last year. What we don't have always looks far prettier on the outside. It's only after we've bought into that perfect story idea that we notice its chips and blemishes. The impulsive buyers move onto the next idea; the sensible shoppers figure out how to fill the holes and polish the smudges.

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.