Focus, Planning and the New Shiny Idea

Anyone who knows me, online or off, knows that I’m easily distracted. Writers as a species seem prone to the “new shiny idea” siren, even neurotypical ones–so my ADHD brain bears only part of the blame for that. But whether it comes down to “Oh, look, a puppy!” or “Wouldn’t it be really interesting to write an interracial lesbian teen Sherlock Holmes series?” I’ve got more ideas than I can write all at once, and I’ve begun way more of them than I’ve finished.

I suspect most of us are at least a little guilty of letting our gaze wander from time to time. I also know that it became a greater problem for me as soon as I started trying to truly “pants” my novels. When I drafted my first two, that’s what I believed I was doing: writing “by the seat of my pants,” thus the expression…but I wasn’t. Not really.

My first two novels were set in a world I’d started mentally building in high school. By the time I finally committed to writing the first one, I had over a decade’s worth of character planning, short story prompts, and huge plot arcs to back me up. So while I didn’t know it, I went into that first NaNo session as a planner, not a pantser.

Since those first two drafts, I’ve only finished one additional book, despite beginning at least five more–and in most cases, getting in quite a few words on each of those! When I’m working, I can’t see the forest for the trees, but having taken a step back over the last year, I can recognize the pattern.

No matter how much I love an idea, then how much lip service I pay to planning it out, I only gain a shallow level of understanding about it. There’s a limit to how well I can truly know my characters or my plot without putting in the time–and there’s a limit to how much time there is when I’m constantly starting new stories!

So here’s to a better understanding of my weaknesses, and a renewed focus on…well, focus. 🙂 Today’s excerpt comes from one of the aforementioned unfinished first drafts.

Today’s Excerpt: “It was four more years in the same small town,” she replied. “Same high school, same classes. I kept on being a television geek, and she took a boy her parents liked to prom.” She paused for a moment, just looking at him. He had such striking features, but his eyes were kind.

“This wasn’t just the first time I’ve spoken to her on campus,” she confessed. “This is the first time she’s spoken to me in three years, period. We lived in a town of three-thousand people and she just avoided me until graduation. I thought I was over it. And then she sat herself down next to me at a party like nothing ever happened.”

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Focus, Planning and the New Shiny Idea

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