Whenever I get a huge idea for a new story, I generally stop what I’m doing and open a new document, give it a temporary name, and write down the first couple of sentences and notes. I have lots of these lurking in my WIP folder, but I never allow myself more than ten minutes to create them. Then I leave them alone, to wait until I’ve published what I’m currently writing. I do write more than one book at a time, but I haven’t ever abandoned any of them in favour of starting something brand new, and working on that instead. Many times I get to a place in a book I’m working on when the next thing to happen refuses to reveal itself to me, or I think that the whole story is a lot of rubbish anyway, and getting stuck into something shiny and new would be a much better idea. No matter how much I really, really want to start in on my new idea, I won’t allow myself to do that. Because if I do it once, I’ll do it again, and then maybe another time, and if I’m not careful I could end up with piles of unfinished books and nothing ever ready to be published.
I’ve never heard any famous author say that writing is easy. It isn’t. It’s really hard work. I think that writing is like any other job though, in the way that the more you do it the easier it gets. When you begin an exercise regime you might only manage a ten minute workout, and you have to push yourself through the pain to get fitter. You have the choice of deciding that it’s way too difficult and try something else instead, or to carry on pushing until you reach your goal. If you give up, you’ll be disappointed in yourself, and will never know what you could have achieved. If you choose to keep going, those endorphins are going to give you a happy face every time you complete your workout, especially if it was hard, and eventually you’re going to reap the benefits of all your work with your taut new body, and years added on to your life.
I think that writing’s just the same. When that next sentence just won’t come, you can just drop it and try something new, or you could write on. It’s at these points that I allow myself to write anything, no matter how stupid it sounds, because eventually the tangled threads will unravel, and I’ll see where I need to go. My goal is always the final sentence of the story I’m working on, and then I get to reap the benefits of getting it published. And those writerly endorphins give me a happy face every time I add to my story. There’s always a sense of accomplishment whether it’s one hundred or two thousand words. Not writing anything at all on any day generally brings on anxiety, because I know that the longer I leave it, the harder it will be to get back into. Just like exercise, you have to keep your scribbler muscles in shape. So it doesn’t matter how many new stories you start writing. If you don’t push through on the books you’re writing now, you stand the chance of wasting a whole lot of time, with only a pile of partly written stories to show for it.