It never fails.
You’re making good progress on your story, storming past your word count goals…
Then BOOM! SHINY NEW IDEA!
Ugh. I don’t know how many solid stories I’ve killed because of this type of self-sabotage. I’ve got folders full of half-finished manuscripts and unused book covers. Even worse, who knows how many times I’ve boasted on the Facepages that a ‘brand new story from me will be available soon’, only to have it fizzle out a week later.
That’s the curse of being a creative. Our brains are wired differently. Combine that with a need to be constantly stimulated and you’re doomed to never finish a single book. I’ll watch a movie and think ‘man, I want to tell a story like that’. Or I’ll wind up sliding down another internet rabbit hole inspired to write a book that solves it all.
A movie. Another book. A song. A mood – all of these things can inspire us.
So, what can we do when our brain is so-easily sidetracked by IDEAS. Ideas are a good thing, right? I’d rather have a million ideas than no ideas, right?
Not so fast, Tyler Perry.
I’m the guy who takes over an hour just to decide what I want to watch on Netflix. And don’t even get me started about my experiences at an all-and-everything-you-can-eat buffet. There’s just SO MUCH to choose from. Maybe I get halfway through a plate of tacos and decide I want pizza. So, go get a piece of pizza -easy. But, then you have a perfectly good plate of tacos just sitting there. Maybe, after I get the pizza I’ll find out that the tacos were better. But the market says Pizza will sell better than tacos. Perhaps, after I get home, I’ll realize that the tacos would’ve been easier on my stomach. My whole night was wasted with Pizza!
Silly analogy, point made.
This time around, I’ve decided to take action against the bombardment of shiny happy sidetracks. Let’s hope it works.
Consider it meal prep.
This is what I’m doing currently.
I keep two or three projects open on my desktop at all times. Each of these projects is a different genre. You see, my biggest problem is jumping from one genre to the next. Maybe I’ll feel like writing something spoopy this morning, but at night I want to dabble in some literary fiction (yeah, right). So, I have these three projects going for whenever the mood hits me to write a certain style. BUT I DON’T DEVIATE FROM THOSE TWO OR THREE MAIN STORIES. Put it this way, I keep a slice of pizza, a taco, and a bacon cheeseburger sitting on my desk for whenever a certain craving hits. No fried chicken. No Chinese.
Sure, you’re thinking, but what if you get struck with the perfect idea while you’re writing on these few stories? That’s what the notebook I mentioned in a previous post is for. I’ll scribble it down, maybe even let it simmer for a night or two, but I always return to my main work.
THE THREE MONTH RULE.
This is a new one I’m working on. You can’t eat nothing but tacos for your entire life (well, I probably could). I’ll give each of these two or three projects my undivided attention for three months. Then, if nothing comes of them, I’ll get out one of those awesome ideas I scribbled down and work on it. Three months is more than enough time for a middle-aged asshole like myself to dedicate to a story. However, what I’m finding out so far – is that I’ll have made so much progress on these two or three main stories in that time, that I’ll want to finish them before moving on.
I’ll keep you posted if this plan works. Current status: Crime Thriller (75 pages), Absurd Adventure Thingie (50 pages) and Horror project (10 pages) – one month in.
How’s YOUR writing coming along? Let me know.