All right, writers, put your hands up in the air if this has happened to you. You’re chugging along, happily working on a writing project, excited about where it’s going and enjoying the journey on which your characters are taking you.
And then you get hit with an idea for another project. And then another. And yet another after that.
You’re walking down the street or having a conversation with someone, and that little thought pops into your head. Man, that would make a GREAT story… You scribble it down in your notebook, promising yourself you’ll get to it someday, when you’re done with your current WIP, and crossing your fingers and toes that you won’t lose the flood of inspiration that’s threatening to pull you in with its undertow. But you’re unable to keep the ideas from streaming in.
Streaming in? Hell, they’re gushing in. Seeping through the cracks in your brain, filling every empty space they can find. Pretty soon, you find yourself wanting to work on both story ideas, because you know how temperamental muses can be and how fleeting inspiration is. You want to ride that wave while it’s cresting, not when the water’s receded.
What’s a writer to do?
This is the spot I find myself in right now. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a good problem to have; I’d rather have too many ideas than none at all. But I find my loyalties torn and I’ve almost succeeded in convincing myself that I can work on both at the same time and manage to sustain my enthusiasm for both. Realistic? Probably not. More than likely, I’ll fizzle out with both — suffer burnout and/or suffer a drastic decline in quality of what I produce for either.
But boy, is it tempting to try.
This current WIP is one that has a great deal of meaning to me, since it explores the havoc that cancer wreaks on someone’s life and her relationships. It is a story that’s been inspired by many incredibly brave friends of mine who have had to live through this very real horror, and their story deserves to be told. There’s one friend in particular who is the driving force behind this, a friend whose passing at the mere age of 26 still haunts me. Brittanie shaped so much of my protagonist’s journey, which is only fitting, since Brittanie was — and still is, in so many ways — my biggest writing cheerleader. I need to write this story, if for no other reason than I want it to be my ultimate gift to her.
Working on this is a given. Now the dilemma is… my brain’s been invaded by a really compelling story idea for a speculative fiction trilogy. And when I say it’s been invaded, I mean it’s been totally and completely taken over. I see and hear these characters in my head, and the story will not let me go. I find myself daydreaming of their world and the epic story that is begging to unfold in my brain.
Later, I tell myself. I will work on it later, once I’ve finished the first draft of my WIP. The thing is, it’ll be a while before that first draft is completed. I’m still in the outlining/story building phase! And I don’t see myself finishing with that phase for a while, because I want to really take the time to think every aspect of this through and get to know my characters and the story from every angle. Realistically, it could be another year (or maybe even more) before I finish the first draft, and in the meantime, these other characters are itching to play.
So here I am, wrestling with an internal debate of whether to attempt the very ambitious task of working on both projects at the same time. I want to, I really want to. Logic and experience are telling me to be patient and hold off until I work through the first project, so I can give it the attention it deserves, but I’m just not sure I can keep holding off the flood of ideas (and enthusiasm) for the other that doesn’t show any signs of letting up soon.
Oh, and as if these two big projects weren’t enough, I also got hit with a sprawling idea for a novel length fan fiction. But I’ll have to save that for another time :).