Perhaps as a child you remember hunting for fireflies at dusk, capturing them in mason jars, punching holes in the lid, and watching them glow as they blinked on and off in the jar. Some children released them by night’s end so they could continue to light up the night. Some children forgot, and their fireflies died in the jar.
This is what some authors do too.
Firefly Catchers are authors who have some wonderful and illuminating ideas they plan to one day share in a book. But instead of “opening the lid” and letting them out, they keep them bottled up for “someday,” locked in a drawer, a notebook, or stuck in a computer folder. In this state, only they can admire the lights of their imagination, and with no way to escape, their ideas soon die in the “jar.”
Locked away, their ideas are never let out except in rare moments of conversational intimacy where they let slip an idea or two. They are usually received with accolades and encouragement, but even that isn’t enough to shake them free.
A good friend of mine, I’ll call her “Rita,” is a perfect example of a Firefly Catcher. She has kept copious notes for a fabulous idea and only needs to take time putting them together for the book she knows she is going to write—one of these days—but as of yet, she hasn’t. (Something else always seems to take precedent.)
Do not confuse the Firefly Catcher with a case of writer’s block. The two are in no ways the same. In fact, a Firefly Catcher may be writing thousands of words. They may even have notes upon notes for the book they want to write. Releasing the words to paper isn’t the problem.
• Firefly Catchers are often detailed oriented. Their tendency to lean toward perfectionism also helps them to create mastery products welcomed by their audiences. Their attention to the little things matter in big picture and are noticeable to those who enjoy their works.
• Firefly Catchers typically have access to wealth of ideas. They can easily step back into their heads to find connections to life experiences that create new ways to present old material or making new concepts understandable.
• Firefly Catchers are not afraid to tackle a large daunting project. They will take copious notes and dig deep for clarity, understanding, and documentable facts.
• Firefly Catchers get caught up in the “what ifs” and “maybes.” Their work won’t be good enough. Their grammar sucks. Someone else wrote on the same topic. All of this worry blocks them up and locks up their firefly lights.
• Some Firefly Catchers simply lack clarity. They have so much compiled data in what they are doing they don’t know where to start.
• It’s easy for Firefly Catchers to get caught up in the flip side of perfectionism, where they become so focused on the details, the forward progress of the project stalls.
• Firefly Catchers thrive on results, so if a project stalls, requires more data than they have time to adequately verify, or become overwhelmed by taking on too much at one time, their project may, indeed, end up dead in the “jar.”
Firefly Catchers are usually dealing with some measure of fear. Known or unknown, it’s often the fear that prevents the release of what could be a fabulous product. Taking time to identify their apprehensions and, often unfounded, fears, can ease their minds allowing the release of their work.
(Click to read about another common type of author, the Joan of Arcs.)
Image Credit: Grave of Fireflies, ©Mustafa Hacalaki www.mustafahacalaki.com (Used with permission.)