I think every writer contracts ADD at some point in their career. Whether ADD is actually contractable doesn’t matter. Go with the analogy.
Anyway, you’ll be typing away at a short story or novel and be hitting the doldrums. The dull, boring sections of the story where nothing’s going right, the characters are hopless, and you might as well scrap the whole thing anyway. Then, a flash of light. A new, shiny story idea that promises to always keep your attention, never get boring… you stop typing and begin to chase this new promising thought. The cycle repeats.
The problem is, something will always look better. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably think of one of these ‘wonderful’ ideas every day. Here’s some advice to stay on track.
1. Write the idea down on an index card or in a notebook, then leave it alone for a few weeks. It’s amazing how many ideas seem completely wonderful when you’ve just come up with them, but you see them later and realize that they’re completely ridiculous. The index card method prevents you from getting a start on the actual story before you come to this sobering conclusion. It’ll save you a lot of grief once you realize the idea was impossible, copying another author, or just plain bad.
2. I’ve just started this method today, but already I feel myself wanting to break it. I have loads of projects in the works, and jumping from one to the other prevents any of them from getting done. Therefore, I pinned a paper up to my bulletin board. (I really need a dry erase board for this.) On it, I listed the three writing projects I’m allowed to work on.
Finish “Two Dances”, a not so short short story I’ve been working on on and off for weeks.
Edit Sable, a Nano novel that just might have some promise if I could clean it up.
And edit “Ghost Story”, a short story I might submit some time, but needs some fine tuning.
Until I’ve accomplished one of these, I can’t do anything else. Obviously, a whole novel is going to take years to edit. Having it on the list now just means I’m going to pay extra attention to it. After a month or so, I’ll take it off to stew while I tackle something else.
I don’t know how this method will work now, but I have hopes that it’ll keep me on track and help me finish some projects that have been in the works for years. Try either of these methods yourself, and tell me how they work for you.