So, the other night I had a weird dream. I was half awake, half asleep and an idea came to me. A shiny, shiny, shiny new idea. For a new novel. Different to the one I am already writing.
Alas writing that novel or even entertaining the idea of writing that novel right now is against all the rules I set myself for getting through my first first draft. And so far those rules have been working out pretty well.
But let's not lie. It's hard. The temptation of the new idea is ever so alluring and the desire to sit and outline it for a second or try and type a little bit of the first chapter is ever present. So why not just give in?
Well, I've got a bunch of good reasons...
I talked in this blog post about building momentum when writing my first draft and how it took perseverance and support. Well, an excellent way to lose momentum would be to simply put the project to the side for a minute, an hour... a couple of days? For me, building momentum when writing in Act 1 is easy and so if I start on that shiny, new idea, I'll be really motivated to keep going with it. For about 10,000 words. And then I will inevitably hit the same problems I hit in every other project I've ever attempted to write. Oh, and bonus points for losing all the momentum I worked so hard to build on the first project. Shiny, shiny ideas are the death of momentum.
Okay, I admit it. I'm a big dirty cheat. I always think the grass is greener on the other side. (Get your mind out of the gutter, we're talking about novels here people!). The novel I'm currently working on deserves my loyalty. Hours of effort and research and work have already gone into tugging the story out of my brain and onto the page. If I cheat on it, it will never be finished and, frankly, it deserves better.
All joking aside I need to prove to myself that I can stick with the one thing and get to the end. The ultimate goal here is to be published and I don't know any book shops which sell half-finished books.
Honestly, I'm obsessed with my new idea. I'm thinking about it a lot and making sneaky little decisions about plot and character. Fantasising about it. But this doesn't need to be a negative thing. Maybe this is the motivation I need to finish my current first draft - the prize being getting to work on the shiny new idea.
Here's a secret: I love the draft that I'm working on at the moment but I don't really know how 'publishable' it is. It's a historical novel set in the Highlands of Scotland building up to an event called the Glencoe Massacre and I just... I mean, I would read it but I'm not sure about anyone else! But that's okay. Because I'm writing that novel for me. It's my novel to practice on, to make mistakes with and to prove to myself I can make it to "The End". But will I ever query it, even when it's super polished and beautiful? I actually don't really know. Maybe yes, maybe no. So having a different project that is potentially a bit more of a commercial opportunity will not necessarily be a bad thing, even though I am categorically not working on it until this first first draft is finito.
Essentially, this post was a way for me to re-convince myself to keep going. No one said that writing a book would be easy and that's good because it's not. But I'm almost half way now. "The End" is just over the horizon.