As nearly any of my friends would tell you, I’m possessed of a healthy1 ego. As large as my ego admittedly is, I know better than to pretend I’m better at this whole writing thing than I am. It would be the height of arrogance for me to offer advice on what you should do as a writer, and it would be stupid of you to take it. Since you’re not stupid2, I’ll stick to something that I’m much more qualified to do: telling you about mistakes I’ve made in my infant writing career.
Today’s unforced error: what TVtropes calls Attention Deficit Creator Disorder3. It’s a serious problem of mine. You see, I’m a first-rate geek, and as you probably know, that entails an attraction to what might be termed ‘the shiny’, which I’m going to lean on as an explanation for the extensiveness of my Steam library, the rate of growth of my firearms collection, my propensity for saying things like, “Let’s build a trebuchet,” and most pertinently, the way I bounce around my ideas file. Some writers have the ability to keep a lot of plates spinning at once, but that’s absolutely not me. I can spin one plate, and if I try to get a second one going, they both end up on the ground.
It’s almost certainly exacerbated by the number of settings I have that cry out for attention (five separate universes comprising at least ten time periods and sets of characters), but in honesty, that’s neither here nor there. Every writer I know is tempted to flit from project to project, but I’ve only heard of the sort of writer who can do so and still finish projects (professionals probably have it easier than we amateurs).
So, how have I pushed myself to the finish line, as easily distracted by shiny new ideas as I am? It’s a three-pronged approach. One: I post my writing here. Having a deadline helps, even if it’s one I have a tendency to simply ignore. Two: I’ve stopped trying to write novels4. Unless I go at NaNoWriMo speed, I can’t keep my attention on one thing for long enough to make it work. The short story and the novelette are easier for me to bring to a conclusion. Three: I write in universes I delight in. Skypirates is one of those, as is Nexus (which I’ll be revisiting for my next story, although it won’t bear much resemblance to We Sail Off To War). The fantasy world needs some attention before I can include it in that category again.
That’s all, I guess.
1. Fortunately, they’re not writing this. Otherwise, I expect I’d have been given a less flattering adjective.
2. As evinced by how you saw what I did there.
3. Which is a fantastic name for it. I’m almost willing to forgive them for their preference for prosaic titles on articles like Eye Awaken (Eye Open is good, but Eye Awaken used to be Eye Opening Closing, and that’s a pun on at least three levels) and Complexity Addiction (descriptive, but Blofeld Complex is so much more evocative).
4. Even though that prevents me from writing a story in a world I really, really want to write in.