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Creative perseverance vs Creative freedom

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Velka, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. Velka

    Velka Sage

    Disclaimer: I really have no burning life goal to become an upper-case “W” writer. I write, I enjoy it, it’s a hobby, and should I eventually get off the couch and dust the dog hair and crisp crumbs from my lap I might actually submit something to a muckety-muck publisher one day, but as I look down and find I am covered in dog hair and, in this case, spilt beer (don’t judge, it’s been one hell of a day and it makes the bendryl taste not as gross) it most certainly isn’t today.

    I have a good story. It’s a complete first draft. I also have half of a better story, which is ‘book two’ building off the before-mentioned story. (I kinda feel imposter syndrome creeping in when I use words like book one and book two because they are just Scrivner files on my laptop and not actually books because authors write those and I am covered in beer because I missed my mouth). I also have some short stories and longer stories that range between suck and not bad. My WIP isn’t my “first love” as it goes in writer land (that one is like Han Solo tucked away in it’s carbonate block), so I don’t have that perfect story baggage

    The last 6 months I have been alternating between editing book one and writing book two, depending on what I felt like doing that day and where inspiration smacked me in the head. It’s been a pretty good way to keep momentum and interest. I’ve always had some side ideas that I’ve worked on/researched/dribbled variations of 26 letters into semi-coherent sentences, but overall, it’s been this story and this world for the last two years.

    I’ve recently come up with an idea that has enamoured me in a way that all my previous ones have not. It’s shiny, it’s new, it’s benefited from all my years of committing horrible atrocities against the written word and learning from it. It has all those great things that all those great writers say stories need to have. I’ve outlined the damn thing and it’s now consuming my creative thoughts and desire.

    Part of me wants to see current story through to the end because finishing things is important and it’s a good story and I’ve put a lot of time and effort into it. The other part of me wants to leave it a Dear John letter and run away to Paris with this new idea to eat brie and drink wine and revel in resplendent new creative debauchery.

    I suffer from creative ADD in every other area of my life (just look at my office to see the half-finished knitting, painting, sewing, drawing, crocheting, woodworking projects - don’t even get me started on the summer I tried to become a blacksmith), but writing has always been a place where I’ve stuck to things and seen them through. I don’t want writing to become another creative outlet where I act like a puppy given two sugar cookies and an espresso, but at the same time this new story is so shiny.

    Have you ever abandoned (or at least left hanging indefinitely) a piece of work when it’s so far along to chase after a new story?

    I am on a creative ledge and need someone to talk me down, or tell me to jump.
  2. Drakevarg

    Drakevarg Troubadour

    I've never gotten far enough on a major project to abandon it in such a fashion. A few half-written short stories, innumerable outlines, sure. But the biggest project I ever worked on that I didn't finish was a stage play for a class that I missed the deadline on (and ultimately wouldn't have worked on any kind of school budget, so moot point).

    But I get what you mean by creative ADD. Sometimes its easier to tinker around with a new idea than to put the energy into pushing a project you're stuck on up the hill. Ultimately, though, I'd say stick with it. Maybe not devote yourself wholeheartedly if that's just going to involve a whole bunch of fruitless staring at a blank page, but keep it nearby unless you're convinced the final project is basically without merit (which is my usual reason for abandoning the handful of fanfiction projects I've dreamed up - it's too much effort for what is ultimately idle self-amusement).

    This problem is exactly why I want to limit myself to short stories for now. Little projects with a visible finish line are just easier to devote yourself to than picking away at a mountain every day. Maybe less ultimately satisfying, but I think it helps build up stamina such things.
    Velka likes this.
  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Ummm, yes. Absolutely, I've jumped. Both with screenplays and with larger fiction. I've got a couple things burning in the back of my head even now, but I'm not jumping from what I'm working on this time... This one's been beating around my head for a decade and I've been waiting for it to fully flesh out and to finally believe my writing worthy of the story.

    Jump or not, too personal of a call for anyone to make except you. But the beauty of writing is, you can always go back. Particularly if you aren't fast tracking yourself to publication and are still just doing it more for the love.
    Velka likes this.
  4. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Yes. I've jumped, but like you, I'm no pro so I don't consider it a huge loss to society in general.

    I worked on a story for a while. I did not have the skill level to make it what I wanted. I was beating myself up about it. I decided to try something different. I worked on another one to find that it just was not working. I didn't have enough of a story for it to actually be a novel worth reading. So yes, I jumped again. Did I learn from both those experiences? Absolutely.

    I agree 100% that getting to "The End" is very important. But sometimes you just know… you know? And if you feel like something is burning inside of you then I think you should go for it… or at least put it in a drawer and if it is still burning in a month or two then pull it out and get cracking.

    I know for myself I get SUPER excited about a lot of ideas. I have, like, a million ideas a day. Little bits of dialogue. A character. A scenario. None of these things are actually stories… but I feel so compelled to do something with them that I want to always be jumping to something different.

    I read a few great books by some authors that note that this is totally normal. Put the idea away and let it compost for a while (a few days? A few weeks, whatever… just give it a slight gestation period) if you are still interested in it then sure, pull it out.

    This is what I have done and it seems to work pretty well for me.
    Velka likes this.
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    It's a difficult choice and only you can make it.

    But you'll never regret finishing something.
    Velka likes this.
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    There is no right answer here. Since you have no time frame or immediate desire to publish, the world is your oyster in what you want to do.

    Now here are some things to consider. Some writers have to at least jot down something quick on the new and shiney idea to stop it from distracting them from their current work. Others write the whole thing out if it's a short story before returning.

    The thing about returning, if you've left a work for too long, in a way, that story will never be written. What I mean by that is the story that would have come out if you had stuck with it will be vastly different than the one you write if you go away and return.

    That's because we all change. The person you are today is different from the person you were a year ago. Ideas on certain things will skew.

    Now is this good or bad for the story? It can be both. Coming back to it later may mean you're a better writer when you take it on again, so the results may be better. OR coming back later can mean you abandon it completely because the initial spark that made you want to write that story is gone, so the story no longer holds any meaning in terms of completing it.

    With that said, do what makes you happy.

    No matter if it's right or wrong in regards to your writing, one thing is for sure. You'll learn something.
    Velka likes this.
  7. Velka

    Velka Sage

    Thanks all for the input. I cringed a little rereading my post and getting the mental picture of teenage-me throwing herself on the floor dramatically while whining "Just tell me what to dooooooooo!" Beer and Benedryl don't mix well I suppose.

    I've decided, for now, to keep on keeping on with my current work. I think what Penpilot said was what was banging about in my brain:

    I'm on a roll, or as much of a roll as I'll ever be on... more like a constant dribble, with this story. It still excites me to write, I think it's pretty good overall, and I don't want to chance losing the magic of it all. Shiny new idea still sparkles, but I'm going to keep it to 'side-project' status for the time being and let it marinate in my imagination for another time.

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