Imagine if you will, this tranquil setting: You, the writer, are at your desk. Your eyes are bloodshot and you’re struggling to meet your daily word count. About ten cups half full of cold coffee are scattered around your desk and the Dashing Hero is about to press his lips against your Heroine’s while placed against a backdrop of the New York skyline when suddenly the sky explodes and a torrent of angels and demons and whatnot rain down upon your beautiful literary couple.
“What?!” you exclaim. “This is not my story! Where on earth did that come from?” You shake your head furiously, guzzle down half of the eleventh cup of lukewarm coffee, and get back to work.
Or you try to, at least.
You can’t help but be intrigued by the idea of the sky splitting open and raining down horrendous creatures. Why are they there? Better yet, who’s going to stop them? It certainly can’t be your present literary couple who know absolutely nothing of killing the scourge of the underworld. But, if you created someone else….
This is a Shiny New Idea.
They’re nasty little buggers, aren’t they? They like to choose the most inopportune moments to sneak up behind you and whisper in your ear, “Look at meeeee. Aren’t I pretty? Wouldn’t you rather work on me instead?”
And you, the poor writer frazzled from near overdosing on caffeine and chocolate and wondering why your characters in your current project won’t do what you want them to do, you’ll look at this Shiny New Idea, and go, “Ohhhhhh.”
Well. At least that’s what I do.
At best I’m a finicky writer. Not in terms of “Why is there no entry in the thesaurus for orange?!” but finicky in the sense that I’ll write something for five minutes, look at it, and then think, ”Bored now.” At worst, I delete entire paragraphs because they aren’t interesting to me.
I suffer from Writer’s ADD.
Even while writing this guest blog, I’ve had a reoccurring thought: Is this boring? This is boring. I shouldn’t write about this. No one will like it. I should write about something else, like ponies.
But this post has to be about writing, so I can’t write about ponies. Maybe next time. (Though maybe I could write about ponies that write? Ooo, that’s a good idea.)
Shiny New Ideas, or, alternatively, SNIs are the absolute bane of my existence. Particularly when I’m at this stage:
“Dear God, Novel, I don’t care if we’re only halfway through. If you don’t shape up and behave right now, I am going to cut you.”
I never said I was nice.
Maybe it’s my subconscious’s way of trying to get away from my novel induced insanity, I’m really not quite sure. All I know is that I’ll be working on the monstrosity, when BAM! Shiny New Idea struts in wearing black Stilettos and accompanied by a love interest who’s got a leather jacket and a motorcycle.
This is where the second guessing and doubt plays in. I know that the thing you’re supposed to do with SNI’s is write them down and forget about them pronto. But is it really that easy? Your current project is boring. It’s not exciting anymore. This new idea is so fresh! And clean. It probably smells like freshly baked cookies. The characters are brilliant and have delicious dialogue!
Mmmm. Delicious Dialogue.
I know that I can’t be the only writer who suffers from this problem. This is where discipline comes in. I need the discipline to make Miss Stiletto stay in a hotel with Motorcycle Man so that I will have the strength and peace of mind to make it through this novel without ripping it to shreds.
But what if it won’t leave you alone? What if Miss Stiletto insists on dragging you out to lunch and buying you pretty clothes, and all you have to do in return is just write one measly little scene? Okay, maybe two, but pleeeeease?
It all depends on what you can handle.
I know for a fact that there are some writers who can juggle two or three writing projects at once, and others who can barely focus on one. There’s no hard and fast rule, which is true for all writers. It all boils down to what each writer knows they can and can’t handle. Unless it’s a short story, I have a hard time splitting my attention between two projects. Which is where I take a deep breath, thank Miss Stiletto for the lovely silk halter dress and spiked boots, and send her back to her hotel.