Writer’s overflow

I met my goal of 75K by the end of June 2016 for Embers. It’s at 139K right now, both parts, and I still have enough plot left for another part I think. But I’m not going to think about that until Monday (I am taking the long weekend off. 16K in four days burned out my brain).

Instead I wanted to write about my other kind of writer’s block.

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The first kind gets talked about endlessly. We’ve all read or attempted to write that short story about an author, desperate for ideas, that writes about their adventures looking for their next muse.

The second kind, I’ve discovered, is when there are too many ideas to choose from and the inspiration is flowing thick and fast, but not for the project that you actually need to finish. Other, better plots or characters. More interesting situations or Big Ideas. Perhaps not even writing ideas at all–I personally get inspired for design work the most when I should be writing instead. Creative Overflow is a much more insidious problem, I find, because it doesn’t look like a problem. We’ve all had that one moaner in a writer’s group who would kill for new ideas and who is currently making a sour face at the very notion of too many notions. We’ve all been stuck ourselves at some point or another. But there are different ways and means around blockages, the advice out there is endless: write other scenes, skip ahead, doodle out maps, brainstorm, stare out a window, take the dog for a walk. But there’s only the one solution to overflow that I know of: willpower.

And willpower, as they say, is a limited resource.

So what do you do? When you’re on page XX of your main project and your characters don’t know what to do, and the urge to work on that other, shinier project gnaws like a craving?

I don’t know. I wish I had a solution, but honestly, I’m terrible at resisting temptation. And Embers is huge. Lumbering along, sure, but there are so many moving parts that it’s exhausting to keep track, and meanwhile my idea for a new Michaela Mowbray novel sparkles. I think it just winked at me. It would be short, and cute, and have a happy ending, and best of all there’s a crisp blank page out there waiting, waiting for me to come up with new characters and a new world. It makes me salivate like the front window to a patisserie.

But I know what will happen. I’ll put down Embers and when I come back to it after a month(s), I’ll have forgotten where all the pieces are supposed to go and spend at least a week tearing my hair out trying to remember who was supposed to end up where. I did it with Space Crazies and with Ashes. It’s so easy to tell myself that I’ll be fine if I come back to it after a break longer than a weekend. But I’m getting wise to the lie.

So I will keep going. See if I can ignore the overflow. Camp Nano is this month, which should help my motivation to focus; I’ve scheduled a Plot Talk with Grace next week for some dangling thread diagnosis, and then the rest is a matter of bum-in-chair. I can do this. I can walk past the window. Just keep walking. I can do this. Right?

…now I want pastries. Dammit.

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