Writers Have Attention Deficit… Ooh, Shiny!

Courtesy Terribleminds

So I’ve been reading Double Dead, which you should be doing if you’re a fan of vampires, zombies or the writing styles of Chuck Wendig. I noticed it was part of something called “Tomes of the Dead”. Flipping to the back of the book, as I bought a physical copy instead of the perfectly viable e-version, I beheld quite a few promises of other novels with zombies in. What happened next was a bit unexpected: I got inspired to write one of my own.

I mean, there are quite a few zombie stories and games and films and memes out there, but few of the narratives tackle how a zombie apocalypse might start and if such a thing could be prevented. It could make for a good story, especially if elements of the supernatural exist throughout and one isn’t trying to make concessions for science.

Before that thought train even left the station, though, I put the brakes on. I thought back to several lessons from my would-be writing mentor and told myself that starting a new novel is a stupid idea when I already have two in need of rewriting. One’s been through the wringer several times, sure, and the other one is a bit shot at the moment but we can fix that in post, right?

That’s when the counter-argument appeared on my opposite shoulder and reminded me that Chuck also tells us his first couple novels may never see the light of day. He mines them for ideas and holds onto them because they’re still words he’s written, they just aren’t very good. They don’t cut the mustard. What’s to say my first couple stabs at long-form genre fiction aren’t similar? Maybe I’m not cut out for the young adult market and I should stop agonizing over nailing the opening. After all, don’t I already have enough headaches? Dayjob, bills, chores, planning for trips to Canada, Chicago and PAX East…

The counter-counter-argument is that when the writing is hard is when I need to write the most. It feels little drill-sergeant like, a bit of the no-pain-no-gain mentality of hardcore gym folk, but there’s also an element of truth to it. We don’t get anywhere or achieve anything without sacrifice. Writing when it isn’t one’s career involves investments of time and energy away from things one would rather be doing, and that includes writing other works. “Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing,” right Mr. Durden?

I’m glad I can at least slow down my thoughts to examine them in this way, even if I struggle to resolve them on my own. I don’t want indecision to keep me idle creatively for long. That way leads stagnation and the heat death of my brain. I do have one more short project to finish this week, but after that? There be dragons. I wonder how much of this indecision I can chalk up to attention deficit disorder or something similar. I’d like to think I’m not alone in moments like this, as the aforementioned Terribleminds post would indicate, but at times like these I prefer to voice my doubts and thoughts just to be sure.

Any advice, Internet? I welcome all comers.

1 Comment

  1. Oh this is so me – I’ve found myself arguing back and forth and back again over whether I should start something new or not. I’ll tell you that I have one published book, another that’s in its final edit, a third in virtual pieces scattered across my computer desktop, and then about three or four other novels that I’ve started and then walked away from, albeit with the intent to revisit them some other time.

    I think it’s the nature of the beast. We writers see the world through different shaded lenses. We see things: be it places, people, situations, and think “That would make a GREAT story!” And hopefully you’re like me and have a group of people hanging around you that like to contribute to your brainstorming – “Hey! Here’s a cool idea for a book.” So then we go write a couple of chapters and then get bored with it when we come across another shiny potential subject.

    Is there a right answer or a wrong answer here? I don’t know. I tend to follow all of Chuck’s advice myself, so I know he knows what he’s talking about because it all just works. I think the biggest issue here is that if you never finish anything, you’ll NEVER FINISH ANYTHING.

    Wow that’s a rambling pre-coffee reply, but there you go. Good luck to you and your future zombie slaying literary adventures!!

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