Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 20: Flirting with Infidelity

You all know what I'm talking about; I can't be the only one who has ever thought about straying.  You've put in the time and really done your best to stay in love with your WIP, but a new idea enters your mind and you can't seem to shake it.  Each day when you're at your computer struggling to pound out the right words your mind wanders a bit until you catch yourself daydreaming about the other one, the beautiful siren of a story that ignites your imagination and has you foaming at the mouth to write down the words which form with ease and eloquence in your mind.  Why can't you feel that way about your WIP?  What happened to all of the fun this novel promised to be?  What about the nights you used to stay up late planning and dreaming of what your characters could become?  Instead you're forcing choppy prose and cliched references onto a computer, hating it all but knowing that for now it is the best you can do.

But what if you gave in to your other one?  You know how much more excited you'd be to write, how invigorating it would all feel.  Could you really abandon a project you've worked on for months, maybe years, in favor of what might only be a mirage?  No.  Definitely not.  Well..... maybe?

Halfway through my 30 day challenge these were the struggles I was facing.  I was tired and bored with my story and characters, and constantly bothered by thoughts of a new story that would be so much easier and so much more fun to write.  I found I had some decisions to make and knowing my options helped me make the best one.  I think you ought to know your options too.

Option 1:  The best option for those of you committed to writing your novel in 30 days as it takes the least amount of time away from your current work.  Don't try to ignore the new ideas, pretending they aren't happening; write them down and get them out of your system (albeit temporarily).  This was the best way for me personally, as it allowed me to take a few minutes to daydream about all the potential my next novel has, but not stray too far from my WIP.

Option 2:  Take some time to indulge your desires.  Maybe your brain is just sick of thinking about the same story over and over again and a little foray into the unexplored ideas will help rejuvenate your enthusiasm for writing.  Your WIP will always be there when you're ready to come back to it.  However, I must add a few words of caution from Donna Cummings's article The WIP on the Side:
"Chasing after the shiny new idea, while blaming the old WIP for your tendency to stray, can leave you with a string of half-finished projects.  Sometimes it's best to remember you and the WIP are in it 'for better or for worse'."
Option 3:  Study your WIP to see if there's a reason you want to stray.  Sometimes staring at a screen, frustrated by writer's block, means our minds have plenty of time to wander.  If that has been your problem consider the idea that there may be trouble with what you've written or planned for your story.  Ann Aguirre of Writer Unboxed says,
"If you’re stuck in a book or story, in my experience, it means your brain is telling you there’s something askew with what you've already written. If you can’t figure out what, then maybe it’s time to step away from this project and let it rest until you do know. Otherwise, you’ll just spend hours banging your head on a wall."
Maybe sometimes infidelity isn't so bad...

For more fantastic articles on the subject see 8 Ways to Stay Focused on Your Novel, and Staying Faithful to Your WIP.

MY DAY 20:  I was on fire, baby!  I wrote about 3,000 words in one day, but also spent time combining and condensing scenes to make each one packed with purpose.  Very excited about the work I did that day.


  1. We all need a break to think, see, enjoy our work with fresh eyes and ideas. It's good. Just like time away from your loved ones is healthy and good.

  2. Wow, I hadn't even thought of that! (which is sort of silly of me since I related the whole WIP thing to a marriage....) I won't deny that having a break from my kids makes me a better mommy and taking a break from my spouse helps me appreciate him much more; why wouldn't a break from my novel do the same?

  3. Loved this- I'm fleshing out an idea right now that has absolutely nothing to do with my current WIP. I've been feeling such guilt over it, but really if I don't type it all out I'm afraid I'll lose the idea. I still try to keep up with my writing goals, but I'm allowing myself to take a break from what has to be done- hoping it will reinvigorate me to finish. :)