There comes a point in every writer’s life – actually, make that day – when they have to fight temptation. The temptaton and distraction of the new idea.
It usually occurs when you’re halfway through a particularly difficult story/feature/manuscript/sentence/word. You’re in there, wrestling away, trying to wrangle the words into submission – or at least some form of sense – when it appears. A New Idea. A bright, shiny, seductive, full-of-promise New Idea.
“Look at me!” it shouts. “I’m fabulous.”
“Listen to me,” it whispers, “I’m fully formed and ready to go.”
“Come to me,” it tantalises. “I’ll never be boring, or difficult, or just plain dumb.”
It’s a siren song. Particularly when the current work in progress is looking boring, difficult and dumb. When you can’t see how it’s ever going to work. Whether it be 500 words or 50,000 words.
The new idea is better. You just know it.
Only, it’s not. Because you’ll get halfway through that project and find yourself in exactly the same place – casting around for something, anything, to distract you. And then you become that writer. The one with half-finished manuscripts stuffed under the bed. The one who couldn’t ‘resolve’ the work and so gave up on it. The one for whom the next idea is always going to be better.
The best idea is the one that results in a finished piece of writing. Once you have a complete draft down on paper – be it that sentence or that novel – then, and only then, can you consider the charms of the New Idea. Take the time to jot down its essence, by all means (it’d be terrible to lose that fabulous thought all together), and then put it aside and go back and finish the Idea you’re working on. The one that used to be the New Idea.
I wrote this post tonight to remind myself to focus on one thing at a time. Trying to catch all the New Ideas just makes a girl crazy. Are you distracted by the next idea? How do you deal?