Ever notice if you look off to the side while driving that your car starts to go in that direction? At least that’s what happens to me. A quick glance is all right, but if I look to the side too long, I head that direction. My best driving is when I keep my eyes straight ahead, on the road. That’s what gets me safely to my destination.
There’s a parallel in writing. We set goals, but if we truly want to reach those goals, we have to make sure we don’t get sidetracked. We need to keep our eyes on those goals.
Ah, but it is so easy to get sidetracked. You’re working on a story, when suddenly you get an idea for something new. Something exciting and maybe better. So what do you do?
Some people put the original story aside and start the second story, and then, at a later date, come back to the original story. Maybe that works for those people, but it doesn’t for me. I’m always getting ideas for new stories and when I do, they always sound more exciting than the story I’m working on. Why? Because those ideas usually come when I’ve reached a point in my original story where I’ve lost that initial excitement. Maybe it’s the sagging middle. Maybe it’s because I’ve discovered my word count isn’t where it should be, and I’m not sure what to add that will enhance the story rather than simply pad. Whatever the reason, it’s easy at that point to think something else might work better.
But I know from experience that if I stop and start the new idea, chances are I won’t come back to the original story. And I think that’s true for a lot of writers.
Over the years I’ve taught several writing classes and been a member of several critique groups. I’ve heard wonderful story ideas and read excerpts from many mss that I felt could easily become novels, but when I’ve met those writers at later dates, and asked what’s up with the stories, the answer usually is…”Oh, I never finished that one. I started another
story. It’s really great. In it…”
So, as this year comes to a close and you start setting goals for next year, take a look back at what your goals were for this year. Did you stay on course or did you veer off? And if you drifted away from your original goal, why? Where the new projects really something you should have followed (Could be) or did your original path simply become difficult and you
took an easier route?
One of my goals for 2011 was to blog every Wednesday. I did pretty well. I did miss a few (last week was one of those misses), and I’ll be missing the next two or three Wednesdays due to traveling. Or maybe I won’t. That’s the nice thing about laptops and the Internet. But if I don’t get a chance, I do want to wish everyone a marvelous Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) and a Happy New Year. Set goals you think you can accomplish and
go forth and succeed.