Have you ever been in the middle of writing one story and then had a great idea for another one? It’s the most irritating thing ever. It’s like an itch that you can’t scratch because you can’t just give up on the story you are working on at the time.
When I wrote my first book, I was halfway through the final drafts when I had to write a short story for class. This wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, having to take a little break to write a quick paper for English, except the fact that I got kind of carried away. Pretty soon, I was planning out chapters and ideas for sequels and plot twists, but it wasn’t for the novel I was writing.
(I never wrote the sequel, but I still have the plans for one written out somewhere…)
A couple days ago, I wrote a post about being bored and tired of the story you are writing after a while of writing it. Yeah… I’m over that now. But when I was writing that paper, I was tired of the book I was writing, and pretty soon that short story for class turned into Looking For Lily, my first publication.
I went back and finished that novel, too. But I had an idea that ended up being published while I was still writing it. If I hadn’t taken a break from my book to write Looking For Lily, I wouldn’t be published. I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I might not even be writing right now. Okay, let’s be real. I would still be writing. But I might not be as motivated or inspired to write.
To be honest, Looking For Lily is not my best work. But now I’m even more motivated to do for my best work what I did for Looking For Lily. That’s all the motivation I need. My best work deserves more than I’ve given it, so I need to keep writing.
So if you have an idea that keeps nagging at you, even when you are writing something else, don’t just ignore it. Don’t think about your deadlines and your current story. Come back to today’s book, but give yourself a day to get it all out.
Give yourself a day to plan it out and get excited about it and flush all of that creativity out of your system. Give yourself a few days, even. Write a few scenes. Plan out chapters or characters or something. Maybe even give yourself a week. Then you can go back to your other stories and deadlines with a clear head.
Why? Why is it that taking an entire week off of your writing schedule for your current story is worth the setback? You never know when your ideas will make it for the long run. You never know if that idea bouncing around in the back of your head is a winner unless you give it a try. And what if it was, and you missed the chance because you pushed it away for something else?
Would you rather regret taking a week out of your writing schedule for a dead end idea, or look back and wonder what could have come from that chance you didn’t take? And again, let’s be real. It’s a week. Or even just a day. It won’t kill you.
Think about what happens when you finish the story you are working on now. You can’t just summon good ideas, out of thin air. They come to you at the most inconvenient times, but that’s just how it is. Wouldn’t you rather have a little collection of possible stories waiting for you when you are ready to move on? That way, you won’t be drawing blanks when you actually need a good idea for your next story.
My challenge for you is to get a notebook. Or a binder. Or a journal. Or something, some place, that you can go write down all of these ideas that are keeping you from writing. That way you won’t lose them when you really need them. And give yourself the time, the vacation of sorts from your current story to write them down right. Don’t just scribble on a napkin and call it an idea. Plan it out and research and outline. The fun, exciting anticipation that gets every writer’s blood pumping.
I’m not saying that every idea you get is an excuse to take a break from your book. Just the ones that won’t leave you alone, the ones that keep you from getting into the story you are writing now.
The persistent ones are always the ones that will last the test of time. And by that, I mean they are good enough to push out months or years of writing for. Holding My Breath was rattling around in my brain sense… June 21, 2014. I just went and looked up the date I wrote down the idea.
I kept a journal that summer and I remember writing down the dream because I thought it would be an awesome novel, even if it was kind of messed up. I was still working on my first book when I wrote it. It was in my head for over a year before I started working on it, and now it’s going to be two years by the time I’m done with it. Or more. That’s a persistent idea if I’ve ever known one.
When you get one of those persistent ideas, don’t ignore it. It’s worth the trouble it is to write them down. You’ll be glad you did it.
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!