The Dilemma of the Shiny and New

… or how to decide whether to stick with a current project or dive into something new

As a text-book flighty indecisive Gemini, this is easily the hardest part of being a writer for me. Well that and my tendency towards procrastination (though that's a post I'll get to... sometime later LOL). But getting my brain to settle on just one solitary idea is so incredibly challenging. It’s the reason I have only two completed novels and a novella right now, but at least four other stories that stalled out about 20-30k. Do I feel those stories deserve to be left in limbo? Not at all, but I can’t seem to force myself to go back and focus on just one of them.

It’s especially an issue for me right now. I have a YA magical realism that I’m been working on since last year that sadly has been set aside several times for one reason or another. I’ve been productive with each set aside: one was for Pitch Wars and the subsequent query trenches with Traces and another was to whip together a novella for an anthology call. Both were definitely good things to work on, and they had deadlines that the YA did not, but it still meant that instead of having a finish manuscript, I’m still lingering at about 20k.

Which brings us to NaNoWriMo and my current dilemma. I’d originally thought I’d spend the month trying to finish the draft finally, something that definitely could be doable with the 50k goal for the month – that would put me at 70kish for the draft which is a respectable word count to be starting revisions with. And that was my plan up until the middle of October.

During that month, I worked on and turned in two really delightfully spooky stories with more of a horror focus, something I really enjoyed working on. After finishing them up, I came to the conclusion that I’d love to try to write a spooky novel at some point in the future. Note: just “at some point.” That didn’t mean it was written into my to-do list or something I planned to work on soon.

…so OF COURSE I had a fantastic witch story concept slam its way into my brain until I can hardly think of anything else. I want to write it so desperately I can hardly stand it, and guess what the past few days of NaNoprep have ended up focused on INSTEAD of the magical realism I had planned to work on. Yup, the witch story. Because that’s productive. *headdesk*

So how do should I narrow down which of these I should actually be working on? Should I go with the story I’ve been working on the longest and still have a clear idea of plot and character, but that I’ve been able to put down several times? Or dive into the “shiny and new” project that for all I know might piddle out at the same 20-30k word count that’s been my mark of death on so many projects before? Or do I dare try to work on both? (This is probably less likely – granted they’re in very different voices & POVs, but I definitely worry I’d start blending story elements together by accident).

I still haven’t come to a decision yet, which is not great as the month of November is looming TOMORROW. Whichever I choose, I still definitely want to have a finished manuscript by the end of the year. It’s a goal that should be possible – if I can just decide which manuscript TO finish.

Come on, brain. Make a choice already!