In taking the advice of Brené Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert I find myself in unusual territory—following my muse and learning to be kind to myself. I accidentally started writing two (very different) novels at the same time. It may seem a strange thing to do, but it just happened. Having ideas for multiple novels at a time is not unusual, but I generally finish one thing before beginning the next. I’d always found it rather simple and straightforward. You open one document, write words on the page and focus. Right?
But after months of work, I kept getting stuck on my dystopian WIP (work in progress) never finding the thread that got me through the muck. I’ve done my research, plotted my fantasy world, outlined and written a fair amount. I know why I’m writing it, I’m excited about the final product. It feels important for me to write. But writing it has felt like trying to sprint uphill in sand.
And then, out of nowhere, lines for the mystery novel started filling my head. Sassy, fun, satisfying lines. Lines like that don’t come along all the time. At least not for me. But I’d put this story out of my head months ago, choosing to work on the dystopian exclusively. I made a commitment and I was going to stick with it.
But no writer can just let organic dialogue float around in her brain and not write it down. I cracked. I had to! I’m only human, after all. But it was just that line. Okay, that scene. That’s it. I wrote it out while it was fresh and then turned back to my dystopia.
But it was no good. I only wanted to spend time in the world of my mystery. It excited me—filled me with electric energy that occasionally had to be danced out. (Solo dance parties are a crucial part of my writing life.) It didn’t matter that I’d been neglecting this story for many, many months. It was right there waiting for me when I finally turned back to it. I didn’t expect that.
Maybe I should finish one thing before beginning the next. But some things (okay, almost all of them) are out of my control. And I’m tired of fighting it. I’m going where the energy takes me. I’m willing to look silly, if need be, because I see the possibilities and they’re beyond my wildest dreams.
Sometimes you just have to let go and hope it all works out better than you could have planned. (Even when you’re a really good planner.)