Today I was thinking about how creative types sometimes like to hold back. Maybe NOT put all of our eggs in one basket. Keep something in reserve for the next book, story, song, painting, or movie.
Yes, me thinking about these thoughts was caused by a movie. Not a bad movie mind you, just a movie that seemed to have been holding back. I’m talking the most recent Star Trek movie. Now, before you extremists start hunting me down, I said it was a good movie. But, in my opinion, it wasn’t great. I don’t want to spoil things for fans who haven’t seen it yet so I’ll avoid details ;). But I felt there were a number of times were things were dangled in front of us, then pulled back. Where chances to go bigger, bolder, scarier, darker, were waved at then passed up for what felt like excessively long chases and fight scenes.
I think J.J. Abrams was holding out on us.
It felt as if he had ideas for another movie, say the third Star Trek, and wanted to save those ideas for it. Maybe, maybe not- I have no idea why he did what he did. But for me the final product wasn't great.
And I know many a time I’ve read and heard writers defend their holding back so they have something for the next book.
Don’t do it.
Take all those eggs, every last loving one, and dump them in that basket. Great idea? In it goes. Juicy characters and twists? Yup- in the little wicker thing.
We should never hold back for two main reasons: 1) we may not GET a second chance. There may not be a second (or third, or fourth) book, movie, song, etc. 2) we’re selling ourselves and our readers short. We’re focusing on a future reward instead of what’s in front of us. Whatever project you are working on RIGHT now is your best project EVER. You have to treat it that way. Even if you’re an odd case like me who writes numerous series, whatever is going on right now is my baby.
Don’t worry about “using it all up”. We’re creative folks, more ideas, characters, harrowing situations will come in to fill the space back up again.
Just keep putting all of your eggs in that basket and make it the best damn basket ever. Until the next one ;).