One of my biggest flaws as a writer is my tendency to be scatter-brained with my ideas. I think this is why I’m such a big fan of NaNoWriMo–the incentive of accomplishing something at the end of 30 days and getting that sticker on the website encourages me to focus on only one project. But when I don’t have that extra motivation, it’s hard for me to stick to one thing.
This mostly comes from the fact that I can’t turn off my brain to other ideas. Ideas for stories, characters, and scenes pop into my head constantly throughout the day. Most of them are worthless, of course, but some stick around. Sometimes, I’ll be on the train or in the middle of a workday, and I’ll think of a great scene in another project–maybe one that I’ve put to the side or one that I haven’t even started.
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, my most effective way to address these ideas is to give into them–sort of. I keep a small notebook with me wherever I go, and when these ideas pop up, I jot them down, but I don’t feed into them any more. I just write down enough information so that when I come back to that idea, whether it’s in one day, one month, or one year, it’ll remind me what the idea was all about. Sometimes, that means I need to write part of a scene. I have dialogue or descriptions in my head that need to get out. But once that idea is written down, I can push it out of my head and focus on the project at hand.
The project I’m currently working on is tentatively called The Hylands. It’s about siblings who are brought together after their eccentric father dies unexpectedly, and since you should know my tastes by now, you know there’s something weird and creepy going on. I think it’ll into the science fiction and horror genres. I love writing these characters–they’re all weird, and they all have secrets. But sometimes, when I’m writing a connecting scene or I’ve been writing from one POV for awhile, I get bored. And boredom means writer’s block. So, I pull out my black notebook, cheat on my new project for just a bit, and get a burst of creativity from something new and exciting. I’ve found that when I do that, I’m able to go back to The Hylands with a fresh pair of eyes and get more accomplished.
What about you, fellow writers? Is it hard for you to stick with one project? What do you do to keep yourself on track?