Shhhh… Don’t make too much noise, the bunnies will find me.
No, I’m not completely insane. I’m not talking about the fluffy little rabbits who eat gardens. No, I am talking about something far more insidious. Evil creatures who pose in the guise of cute and fluffy things you just want to pick up and cuddle, pet, smother with love. Then you find out what they really are, but by then, it is too late. They’ve latched their little bunny claws into your brain and started gnawing away at it. Mmmmm brains.
You only THINK I’m being melodramatic. I’ve seen them. They are lurking all around me, waiting for an unwary moment, a moment where I am not guarding my thoughts. Then they pounce. “Oh look! A bunny!” and then the snuggle fest ensues. I love on it, I nurture it, I feed it. And then, like the friend I let crash at my place ‘just till I get back on my feet,’ I can’t get rid of them!
Cue the hair pulling. Cue the angst filled wails. Cue the writer’s block.
Some of you have caught on. I’m talking about plot bunnies. Ideas that sneak up on you when you least expect it, give you puppy dog eyes until you can’t ignore them anymore and then wont leave you alone, distracting you from whatever the hell you are supposed to be working on.
Sometimes the bunnies are well behaved and you want them around. They can give you an idea for where the story is to go. They can be a wonderful new direction or a new character. Maybe they are a ninja in the closet, something unexpected you never knew your story needed. These ones you shouldn’t be afraid of. You should set nice little dishes of carrots and celery out for them, help them grow into full grown bunnies you can skin and use to stitch together the ragged remains of your novel.
Far too often, they are cute little ideas that have nothing to do with your story. They aren’t helpful, but instead they are overturning your trash and eating all your garden flowers. They are leaving little poop pellets all over your keyboard, just to let you know they are still there. Tiny little footprints smudge the hard work in your notebooks, smearing words and ripping pages. Somehow your brain still insists on how adorable they are. You don’t want to kill them or kick them out. No, you just want them to behave like good little bunnies and not rampaging toddlers.
They will never been good little bunnies, though. They will demand all your attention, stealing it away from your work until the frazzled remains of your brain are fried into funnel cakes. You work in progress becomes a mess of stilted ugly words, because there is always a bunny biting your toes when you try to work on it. And we all just let them. Because maybe, just maybe, one day, these bunnies will grow into full grown stories as well… wishful thinking we all indulge in.
So, what does one do? Writers are creative people, they thrive on those bunnies coming home to roost. They need that constant trickle of ideas and cherish them like diamonds. ‘No idea is ever wasted.’ Not even recalcitrant bunnies.
How I deal with plot bunnies is by writing them down. When an idea comes to me that doesn’t fit into my current work, I take a moment to write it somewhere. I have a Scrivener file for just such occurences (I tried a notebook, which would be ideal, but my childling keeps stealing it.) I take a half hour, an hour, sometimes more, to work on that idea, writing it out just to get it out of my head and onto paper. It’s my bunny daycare center. The bunnies can roam freely there, all without pestering me while I’m working. I have to say, that file gets a good workout when I’m writing. Sometimes bunnies going in, sometimes coming out when I find a good home for them. So far, it’s worked well for me.
This time around, I’m trying something new for Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m making use of my daily dose of 750words.com. I use that time to let the plot bunnies out to play, stretching my mind and my fingers at something other than plodding along in my WIP. My bunnies now get to live in the clouds, running free where no one can see them but me. I still feel them peeking over my shoulder, but it’s far more polite and they are more patient about waiting their turn than they were when I simply tried to ignore them. I’ve been plagued by bunnies for the past few days and none of that is getting me any nearer to being prepared for Camp.
Being a writer is hard.