I think that’s the question most authors either love or dread, depending upon their circumstances at the time. Currently, I hate it. I’ve been struggling to finish one book while my mind is already miles ahead, thinking about all the stories I want to focus my attention on for 2019. And the longer my brain meanders, the harder it is to finish the book I should’ve finished last month! It’s a vicious cycle that is, perhaps, brought on by the fact that I refuse to outline anything. Honestly, I haven’t even decided which man is the hero (the heroine’s torn between two) and I’m 80% finished with the book, based on my word count. You know what that means? It means I’m going back to the beginning.
That’s right. I’ll be printing out all 200 previously written pages and re-reading from Chapter One to see where I’ve gone off-track. I know what you’re thinking. Wouldn’t it be easier to just scrap the story until a later date? Sure. But it would also be easier for me to never go back to it again if I scrap it because I’m feeling defeated by it.
It’s not just writers who go off-track and lose their way. Earlier this week, I talked about New Years resolutions and how to keep them. We all know what the gym looks like during the first week in January. But… go back the first week in March, and the crowds have usually disappeared. Are you one of the crowd?
No judgment from me if the answer is yes. It happens – usually gradually. You have every intention of doing something different and you start out with enthusiasm. And then the weather gets colder, grayer, and you feel the ache in your bones and you decide that what you really need is an extra hour of sleep, or to go straight home after work instead of dragging your tired body to the gym. Just for one day, you tell yourself. But one day turns to two, and maybe on the third day, you’ll half-heartedly go – maybe for a half hour instead of your usual hour. You convince yourself a half hour is better than nothing. And sure it is. But it’s also easier to give up that half hour after a week or two because you’re not seeing results anyway and again, it’s so cold (wet, damp, gray, miserable) outside, you’d much rather go home and binge-watch that Netflix series everyone’s talking about. Or you’ve promised yourself you’ll start that diet and the first few weeks, you’re all in. But by February, you’re splurging for Valentine’s Day or because you had to shovel out your car for the third time this week so you’ve earned this special treat and boom! You fall off the diet wagon and can’t catch up again.
I wish I had the answers to keep you on your path, but only you can do that. You have to believe in yourself, have the discipline to see past that extra hour of sleep or ice cream hit. I’m guilty, too. But I’m trying again. I’ve been on the diet (doctor’s orders) for six months, and I’m finally in the groove. I no longer miss those treats because my tastes have changed. That go-to pizza or ice cream no longer entices me. I have a Fitbit and an at-home elliptical to keep me honest about my exercise routine. (I aim for a minimum of five miles every day.)
And I’ve got a book to write so that I can then focus on the next project. Whatever path you’ve opted to take this year, I wish you success in the journey, courage along the way, and encouragement for those days when you want to detour.