I personally struggle with staying focused on a single story. I’ve got a bad habit of getting amped for a new idea right when I’m about 75% way through the first draft of another story. Writing the last quarter of it becomes a torture as a new, shiny idea fills my head.
So how do you maintain interest in your current project? Running off to chase the newest idea will never help you finish a book—or get published.
Inspiring authors need discipline, discipline to finish a story, to edit it (several times), to query it, and to market it. Basically, you need to stay passionate and committed to your work. If you can’t drag your attention away from the shiny, new idea, then ask yourself: Is my current idea worth pursuing? If the author’s bored, odds are the reader will be too. Or do you lack the discipline to follow the story through?
I’ve dropped a few stories after deciding they bored me because they were boring. Most of the time, I buckle down and finish, knowingI’m just over excited about a new idea.
So how do you tell which ones to drop and which ones to fight for?
Well, there really are no tricks. Either the story is or isn’t worth reading. You’ll have to sit down and think about that on a story-by-story basis. Think about the characters; will it bother you if their story is left untold? Will you feel bad for abandoning them? Do you think others would enjoy this story? How could it benefit people?
Ask questions like that and make a choice depending on your answers.
Now, if, like me, you have ants in your pants and want to jump on new story ideas, then here are the few methods I try when the “new story bug” bites me.
When I first stated writing (which was, what? eleven years ago?), I wrote down the basic idea of the new story and try to leave it alone until I finished the other. However, the ideas never really sat quietly. New characters and plot points would pop into my head no matter how I concentrated. .
Now, you can force the idea from your mind, if you want, and focus on your current story. From time to time, I visualize new ideas like some sort of ball that I mentally bat away. But, usually, I don’t want to slam new ideas away. I want to let them flower and flourish, even if I can’t expand on them right then.
If you believe in your current story but don’t want to lose the new idea, I suggest two options, depending on the person.
First, try working on multiple projects at once. I do not recommend this, though. Unless you’ve been writing for a while and are extremely organized and focused, this could (will probably) end in disaster.
So why did I put the suggestion on my blog? Because you can make this work. Don’t write two stories at once. Instead, break your stories into stages. Write story A, edit story B, query story C, and develop story D. Or something like that.
I work on many projects at once, however, when I’m writing a story, I only work on that one. If I’m not currently writing, I’ll go ahead and edit one story while querying another and plot pointing a third.
Still, it’s difficult. Dividing my time like that isn’t easy. I want to work on all the stories and end up feeling like nothing gets done on any of them. To avoid that problem, I prioritize and order which stories I consider more important to work on right now. The order is usually based off how much time I have, what I’m trying to do, and whats hot on the market right now.
The second option: Write your current story, but go ahead and write down the ideas that come to you, just don’t develop them. That lets you finish the story without smashing your own ideas. It can also help with writers block. If you just can’t think of what to write for your current story, go and play the idea for the new one. It might help free your mind up a bit.
I’m sure there are other ways, but I’ve personally tried and used those two.
Iron & Glass–the novel I’m self-publishing–was a rarity for me. While I finished up another story when I got the idea for it, no other ideas came to me while I was writing it. I stayed focused on Iron & Glass without any distractions. Yea me!
Anyways, how what ideas have you tried to deal with this little problem?
If you have any questions . . .