What do you do when a project starts to feel stagnate?
Quit and start something new.
Shiny new object syndrome is most likely to strike when our creative projects slipped from being pure-play to mostly work.
We sometimes consider giving up on our books when the writing gets tough. Maybe we feel uncertain about where the story is going, or maybe our grand idea now seems boring, predictable, and unoriginal.
The problem is, our new idea is none of these things. Our new idea seems magical, malleable, and magnificent because it is unfamiliar.
When we get a new idea for a project, there are a thousand activities to pursue. New story ideas are kernels that need to be fleshed out, which means conducting content research, developing an outline, constructing new characters, figuring out the genre, deciding on a location etc. There are a million easy to identify decisions that need to be made.
You need to build the foundation of the story; a process that involves a lot of play, creativity, and imagination.
Once all those fun and juicy decisions get made, you’re left with the task of writing the book.
These same qualities can exist when you’re revising a story, but the further into the revision process you get, the more your inner-editor becomes present. Things become a little less play and a little more, ‘how do I make this book work?’
All of a sudden, writing has gone from a world of colourful play to:
- Write book
- Edit book
And that just looks like hard work.
How do you make these steps more doable?
We’ve all heard that we need to break big goals into smaller more manageable chunks, but I’m going to go one step further and suggest that you identify a range of micro-wins. Preferably tasks that you could complete in one writing session or within a week.
This could be anything from organising an interview with an expert as part of your research to completing a chapter. Creating a bunch of tiny goals can help reinvigorate your enthusiasm for the project because you can see progress is being made.
Of course, if your new ideas continue to stick around, there’s no harm and giving them some of your time. You are allowed to work on multiple projects at once, but you may need to decide which project/s will get the baulk of your efforts and which ones are still in a state of development.
The author VE Schwabs has said that she usually has multiple projects on the go but they are all at different stages. She can do line edits on one book while drafting another, and she usually lets story ideas simmer for several years before she begins writing them in earnest.
You’re allowed to think, dream, tinker, and develop the new story ideas that come to you, but there is a level of commitment that is needed to see a project through to completion.
Writing isn’t always pure play, and to reach those glorious words ‘the end’ you sometimes need to do some grunt work and stay with a project even once it’s become stagnant.
Identifying some tiny goals to measure the forward movement of your project is one way to keep yourself in the writing chair.
Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.
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