Climbing Mountains and Shiny New Toys

Sunday, May 19, 2019
I’m happy to report that I’ve written over 9,000 words on my new western romance so far in the month of May. That’s not nearly as many as I should have. In fact, since I’m writing this on May 19th, I should have at least twice as many words as I do. But it’s a lot more than I’ve written in each of the past two months.

Writing a book is often like crossing over a mountain. You start off full of energy and enthusiasm for this new story you’re about to tell. The opening words come easily, and you’re sure this is going to be your best book yet. After a few thousand words, the path gets steeper. This isn’t as easy as you thought it would be. You realize you didn’t develop your characters as thoroughly as you should have before you started. You’re not sure what order those scenes you envisioned need to come in. (There are some writers who don’t write in order. They write whatever scene intrigues them at the moment. Then, when they think they’ve written them all, they shuffle them around until they form a story.)

As you get toward the middle of the book, you’re getting tired from the struggle. You can see the top of the mountain shrouded in clouds, but you have no idea what’s on the other side. But you break out your pitons and rope to help you up. Sometimes the path gets so difficult, you need to pull out an ice axe and chisel out your way. That’s the phase I’ve been in for a while.

Finally, you reach the summit. The thrill of approaching victory courses through your veins. You might even give a fist-pump and shout “Yes!” You can see the way down from the mountain. That’s the stage I reached this week. The writing is starting to be fun again.

There’s a long way to go yet, and then a major editing session. I already know I have a sequencing problem early in the book that I’ll have to work out. And, as always, I’ll have to add transitions between scenes and more sensory details. Often as I write, I know there are chocolate chip cookies in the oven, but I might forget to write that down. Or, if I do, I haven’t mentioned the delicious sweet smell that fills the house.

Since I can see the end now, my brain has started to think about the next writing project I’m going to tackle. The problem is, there are so many stories I want to start. I know I need to write the next African Violet Club mystery. I’ve come up with a brand new idea for a different mystery series, this one more of a traditional mystery rather than a cozy. And part of me wants to go back to that first series I wrote and finally write the fourth book. And give it new covers.

This is referred to as shiny new toy syndrome and is common among writers. They have so many ideas and so many stories they want to write, they can’t decide which one to do next. They might start all of them, then jump from one to the other because the one they’re working on isn’t quite as shiny as they thought it would be. They’ve reached the steeper part of climbing the mountain. The problem with this approach is that no novel gets finished in a timely manner. With new writers, you can just say no novel gets finished.

So my next step is to finish the book I’m working on, then prioritize the other books I want to write. Wish me luck!

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Elise's bookshelf: currently-reading

A Clash of Kings
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