Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Problem With Being Obsessive

So many ideas, so little time. That's my lament when it comes to writing. Fifteen years ago, I was convinced I didn't have a novel in me. I'd started way too many stories only to realize I had a character or a setting or a few scenes, but not a plot for an entire book. I'd given up fiction writing.

Fast forward to three years ago, when I decided to start writing fiction again just for fun, something to do for me. I thought I'd just dabble in characterization, maybe write some short stories for a few close friends. I didn't expect it to be anything more than a hobby to occupy my time instead of TV or World of Warcraft.

But as soon as I made that decision, a full story came to me. And then enough stories for a series. The ideas haven't stopped flowing since.

I have a Word doc where I keep story ideas that have come to me. Some are just a couple of sentences with a kernel of an idea. Others are a full page of stream-of-consciousness narrative.

All of those ideas just sit there for now, the file hidden away, only to be opened to add in yet another idea. I don't worry too much about them because I figure my heart and soul will tell me when an idea is one I need to work on. In other words, the characters won't shut up until I write their story, which is what happened with Alexis.

I had to write her story - still have to write it - because she's incessantly babbling in my head. The only ones that have screamed louder than her are Cassandra and Jordan, the characters in Genesis. And I think the only reason Alexis quieted enough to let me hear them is because their story is important to hers.

But sometimes, like right now while waiting for critique partners to send me Genesis back, I get the urge to start on one of those ideas. Something completely different than the Soul Savers. Something shiny and new. Only until I can work on Genesis again, I tell myself. But I just can't do it.

While I joke about Alexis and Tristan talking in my head all the time, annoying me until I write down what they're telling me, I'm actually obsessed with their story. That's what keeps me going.

In fact, I really have an obsessive personality. When I'm passionate about something, it becomes my primary focus. I can multitask spectacularly on those things that need little brain power, energy or creativity, but when something needs more from me and I truly believe in it, I give it everything I have and then some. This characteristic has served me well in achieving many goals, but it's also a problem.

When it comes to writing, it means I can only focus on one project at a time. I tried to juggle Genesis and Devotion, but I found it difficult to keep switching back and forth. I'd get too involved in one story and forget that I was supposed to put some time in on the other.

So diving into a totally new project is pretty much out of the question. I get too obsessed. I wouldn't be able to tear myself away to meet my deadlines for Genesis and Devotion. And what if those new voices completely drown out Alexis? What if she goes away because I'm ignoring her? That's my fear. That's why I won't be starting any new projects for a while. It's my problem with being so obsessive.

Are you like me and get obsessive with your characters and story? Or can you juggle more than one story at a time? If you're a juggler, how do you do it?

1 comment:

  1. I'm the same one, one project at a time, because I get so caught up in it that it becomes my world. It's hard when your project is out for critique or editing though, you want so badly to play with something new!


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