Sorry, But I’m Already Married: Commitment to Your Manuscript

I want your love and all your love is revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
– Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)

Your characters are in place. The setting is formed. The plot is moving. Perhaps you’ve gotten a few pages, or even a few chapters written in actual ink. Then it strikes: A new idea! A different plot! Newcomer characters! You are beset by temptation. A choice must be made.

For the serious writer, sticking with the same story for the long haul is like a relationship. You’re brought together by a sudden flair, bond in the mind and heart, and then settle down on the long road together. Sometimes you get along just fine, and sometimes you find yourselves not really seeing eye to eye. Arguments happen, you take a break from each other. But if you are truly committed to your goal, the relationship will ultimately bloom into something wonderful. As the decision-making half of the couple, it is up to the writer to see it through…or not.

Even in the best of relationships, there are those opportunities to…cheat. Those sudden, awesome ideas that have nothing to do with the current story are begging to be formed and written. When you’re stuck with writer’s block or what-have-you, those sudden flares are even more tempting. With these new ideas is a change of pace, a new horizon, fresh enthusiasm! What’s wrong with switching over? After all, your manuscript lives for you, it’ll wait…

I’m not going to tell you that starting something new while in the middle of something else it wrong. After all, you are the one who has to decide if your previous relationship is really working for you, and if this new flame is strong enough to get you somewhere. But let me offer you a little advice: if you can’t stay committed to the story you’re writing now, will you stay on track with the new idea? This path may be just as easily diverted as the one you’re on, leaving you with a dozen half written manuscripts and no finished product. A lot of time, no satisfactory end result (I speak from experience).

The best thing for those sudden flames of inspiration is to jot them down and leave them be. You can always come back to them when your previous engagement is done. For me, it makes completing a tale that much more compelling, since I get a little depressed when I hit the end of a story. Here is a notebook filled with new ideas, new loves! I can pore over it at my leisure, formulating those sparks of ideas that I had months prior into something new and exciting.

Love thy neighbor. Love thyself. Love thy manuscript. And to thine own tale be true!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. HaleyWhitehall
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 01:02:53

    Jennifer I couldn’t have said this better. I’ve never struggled with the long term relationship of a manuscript — my Civil War trilogy took me 5 years to write. However, often I get a new idea and have an overnight or at most week long fling with different characters but then I always go back to the novel that I am seriously committed to. Sometimes I just need a break and change of scenery. It recharges my creativity and absence makes love grow stronger so my characters are often more cooperative when I return to them.


  2. Isabella Louise Anderson
    Mar 22, 2011 @ 15:17:46

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂


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