(Last week I talked about falling into a hole of research. This week is about the drags you might struggle with while working on a project, meanwhile new stories in your mind try to get you off-track)
Distractions are constant in a writer's life. It's difficult to get beyond real life and enter the imaginary one in your head sometimes. I've found myself being pulled in various directions by various projects. I've been keeping up on my blogging, but it's making me lag behind in writing on my actual story, not to mention a piece of flash fiction I started on Friday, inspired by my brother's writing he sent me, has grown into something larger than just a short one-off. I'm enjoying it but it's just another thing taking me away from the story I was previously working on.
Finishing things can be incredibly hard. Newer ideas are more exciting and enticing. You don't have to fiddle with characters or figure out how the plot is going to go from A-Z, or struggle with making your writing halfway decent. Old projects get stagnant, fast. Something slows the process down or hinders you and the new idea beckons, with it's lack of problems.
In my current story, I have the first long scene mostly finished, a fairly simple one in which two detectives go through a crime scene investigation, find a few clues, figure out a few things and leave. I thought it would be simple but was far from that. I realized, though I had watched numerous 'crime shows', I had no idea how an actual crime scene investigation would go. I didn't mind if it was a little off but if it was so much so that the reader wouldn't engage with the story, what was the point? So I struggled and am still struggling with maintaining realism, while also wanting to get on to other bits of the story, the real meat and potatoes of the thing. I've also been waffling on a specific supporting character, trying to make them strong, independent, three-dimensional. Bits and pieces of the scene I've already written are rewriting themselves in my head, trying to make everything fit better which stalls me on continuing it and makes new ideas look more interesting.
The problems can make your story seem boring or stupid. Maybe you realize you need to cut out a whole part and wonder 'what's the point'? Why try to continue with this obviously hopeless piece of writing when you can just start anew, fresh, on something awesome? Because, of course, the grass is always greener, the new story will lose its luster as well, and then you're in the same boat you were in before, until all around you are leaky boats you never finished working on and you sink to the bottom of the ocean and I'm not really sure where I went with that metaphor but it works.
But you just have to get down to the gritty nitty. What a strange phrase, by the way. What the hell does that mean, really? Anyways, you have to get down and do it. Write. Which is what I need to do. So I'm going to. No more talking about writing, or writing about writing, or listening to other people talk about writing, or watching people write....Just writing. Period. Start writing before the distractions take hold, before the problems build up, before the hindrances trip you up, before your new ideas tantalize you with their new-ness.
And guess what? I spent time doing that. I spent time cutting away the crap that needed cutting away, rewriting the bits that needed rewriting, and it felt great. Just keep writing.