Hello, faithful readers! One question for this week:
Emily asked: As you may have gathered from my last email, I'm writing a novel. however, I've come to writers block and, in the midst of it, I've come up with an idea for a new story, one I'm really enthusiastic about. I was only a couple of chapters into my other story, and am beginning to wonder whether or not I should even continue with it. Is it a bad idea to pause the story I'm currently working on and start the other? What do you suggest?
I’m actually a really bad person to ask this because this is something I do all the time.
All the time.
But then, maybe that makes me a good person to ask.
Anyway! There are a lot of variables to determine what you should do and ultimately you are the one who has to make the decision. But, hopefully, my response will make the decision easier for you.
For me, whenever I hit writer’s block I’m usually excited about a new story idea. And, more often than not, I drop the one I’m working on and jump headfirst into the new idea. This can be bad for a number of reasons, but it has also worked for me on several occasions.
It can be bad because oftentimes I don’t go back to the first story. I say I’m going to “pause” but it really ends up being that I quit. And my poor first several chapters are left abandoned. It’s also a bad habit to get into because once it becomes a habit it’s hard to actually push through and finish something rather than chase every plot bunny who hops in your direction.
But, there have been other times where I have been so stressed about a story that I just have to write something else. Anything else. And so I’ll set the first story aside and work on something new. And, I have written a good many stories this way. So, it’s worked on several occasions.
Personally, I would recommend pushing through on the first story. It's tough, it's not fun, it can even be really boring at times, but it's life. If you haven’t read my post about writer's block you might want to check it out.
Something I would recommend, since you are passionate about your new idea is to get a notebook or a new document on your computer- depending on your preferred method- and write down anything you want about the story. A first chapter, character outlines, notes on what you want to happen. Just write whatever comes to you until you’re completely dry. This way you’ll have notes when you want to go back to this idea and won’t lose everything you were thinking while you work on the first idea.
The two cases I would recommend quitting the first idea for the second are: if you’re stressed or if you have major plot holes you can’t figure out. Both of these are cases where you need to take a step back and get a fresh perspective. And the best way to gain a new perspective is to set your story aside and come back to it at a later date.
If you do decide to pause the first idea for the second, I would recommend making notes on what you have planned for the first idea, if you don’t already have them. I tend to forget this step and then when I go back to an idea, I don’t have a clue what I was planning. You think you’re going to remember, but put enough time and excitement about another project between you and the idea and you’d be surprised how much you don’t remember.
And that’s that! I’ll see you all on Monday, as usual.
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