I spent some time last month thinking about and sketching out the next Ivy novella. I need an idea of where the road goes before I start driving it, you know. And I admit that it didn’t come as quickly as I’d have liked. I had the basic idea, the very basic story. But the certain details I was needing, the points on the road that I needed to stop and visit, weren’t as immediate and clear as I would have liked.
All well and good. No need to rush. No need to panic. Plenty of time to let the idea boil a bit longer on the back burner.
So while I was letting this bit simmer, I got a sudden rush of an idea that needed to be written now. Here are the characters, here is the story, here is the dilly-yo, so let’s get to it.
Such is one of my biggest annoyances as a writer.
You’ve got your schedule. You are going to work on this. Everything is all nice and neat. And then BAM! Here’s this new, insistent, sparkly idea that looks so much better than the idea you’re working on, that you need to work on, that you should be working on, and wouldn’t you rather work on it?
Like a siren leading my deadlines and plans to the rocks.
Sometimes, when this happens, all I have to do is sketch it out a bit and the sparkly idea falls apart and I can move on with my original project without any guilt.
But sometimes, the sparkly idea doesn’t burst into a cloud of glitter. Sometimes it’s more than just pretty. There’s some real substance there. I can’t just ignore it. I’ve tried and it always ends up badly.
I don’t know what other writers do about this problem, but if I feel compelled to work on it, then I work on it. It’s my second project and it gets my attention as soon as I’m done with the primary project, the one with a deadline and schedule, is finished for the day.
It works out better for me that way.
Working on the second project doesn’t distract me from working on the first project and probably actually helps my focus on the first project because I want to get it done so I can move on to the second project.
And at the end of all things, I end up with the first drafts of not one, but two novellas (or short stories or novels or any combination of those), which gives me more to revise and polish, and more choices at the end of it all. It’s actually a good thing for me in the long run, these surprise ideas that end up doing battle in my head.
It’s still annoying, though.