Sticking with it

by Lane Hodson

Question: I started writing a story but I get another idea for a different one, then it gets stuck with me. Should I stick with the one I already started or start a new one? Or write both?

Answer: This happens to everyone. You get an idea for a story. It seems great, like it would be easy to write, etc.

Then, as you start to write it, you run into all kinds of elements that you haven't thought out. You get stuck because you don't know which direction to go next. That self-doubt kills your enthusiasm. This makes it easy for you to get distracted by the next bright and shiny idea because (just like the first idea when it was new) it seems easy and more exciting.

I can't tell you which of your two ideas is better, but I think we can agree that the challenge is to finish whatever idea you choose to work with.

That's the hard part of writing: making yourself sit in that chair and keep writing until you reach the end of the story, without becoming distracted by not only other story ideas but the internet, phone calls, email, laundry, children, and all the other parts of your life that seem easier to switch your attention to.

What works for me is to create a good, fairly detailed outline of the story before I start, so I will always know what scene or event I must write next.

Then I take a moment or so to get excited about this scene. I visualize it. I conjur the emotions involved with it, etc. I need that excitement to carry me through.

Then I give myself a period of time to write it, whether it's one hour or two, uninterrupted.

Some writers find it also helps to stop not at the end of a scene but part-way into the next, so the momentum will carry them into the next writing session.

Either way, whenever you get stuck, find a way to replace your self-doubt with excitement before you start writing. Perhaps reconnect with what made you excited about your current idea in the first place, or perhaps change the idea a little to make it more exciting in light of what you've already written.

Best of luck with your choice.

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