She whispers in my ear all the time. The newness fairy. She loves to distract me from my muse and tempts me with odd images of mundanity which spark little snippets of writing. She tempts me into working on a new idea.
The abandoned CD player I saw on a wall, with a paintbrush on top: did the painter never come back? The single burnt post on the fence near my house: did the arsonist get bored? The ice cream splat on the floor on a frigid winter morning: did a child get ice cream for breakfast in December? Single images that capture me but belong nowhere in my current novel.
I still haven’t finished the draft which I am pretty sure was my New Year’s resolution last year and probably the year before. I have read endlessly about writing to the end. I berate myself but plod on, using ellipses so that I can get to the scene I want to write. But I wonder, why is the new so appealing? So, it’s New Year 2019 and I am being lured away with new ideas, (including setting up my new blog) It must be time to share a list:
Six Ways New Writing Helps Your Old Writing
- Flexing your muscles. I am out of practice. The motherload over Christmas was intense. There were presents to plan, wrapping, extra shifts, parties to attend, cheese to eat. Intense. A new idea came to me over the holidays and I sprinted off 500 words. I felt unfaithful, particularly as this ideas seemed a little comedic (funny takes it too far) and was a delight to dash off. Much more fun than the quagmire of the draft. But, much like me, my writing has gone flabby in December. Write that new idea just to be writing.
- New characters can appear. The arsonist girl who lurks round my neighbourhood has haunted me (maybe in my mind, maybe not). I even dreamt it was me at one point. The creative mind never sleeps, particularly after cheese and in this dream I saw the patch of blackened fence. (Am I burning fences at night? I don’t know anymore) When I start to write about her, it doesn’t work in the quaint rural setting of my novel but maybe it does? Maybe a dejected teen that I created somewhere else can somehow come and enrich the lives of my main protagonists?
- A new tense can help. I started writing in the first person, then switched to close third and now, who knows? It’s a mess of tenses. There is certainly work to be done in the edit! But on my recent writing course, I learnt the trick to switch back into first person as it is so much easier to access emotions. So,if I am tempted away by a new idea, I play around with what my character would do. Like playing the WWJD game. But not.When my work in progress saw the splat of ice cream she thought back to her childhood and watching her sister
“My mother would be hovering by, napkin outstretched in anticipation. I was unnerved by my sister sitting so primly at the edge of the bench. I took great gulps, of course, worried I would spill on my dress. Dribbles of chocolate ice cream adorned my chin but hers was pristine. She always took such a long time to eat an ice cream.”
4. Daydreams can become more if you write them down. I often have a vacant stare. If I am not watching people in a café, I am sat with an empty page of notebook and a half-drunk coffee looking off into the distance. These quiet moments when I don’t have anything to do often only lead to a couple of paragraphs of writing, but inspiration does sometimes hit. I will turn back to my writing and realise that idea I had in five minutes alone time fits rather well. My brain had been working on the problem whilst I did other things
5. Creativity is play, so play sometimes. I get to pretend all the time. No-one pays me yet, but one day they might. If something new strikes you it’s because you are in your most creative mode, in flow. And though this doesn’t mean I have done much hard graft on my novel lately I am so ready to get back to it.
6. Get fresh eyes. Taking a break can give you fresh eyes. It might be the new blog is in fact procrastination station. But is also a way to recognise new skills I have gained by taking a writing course (post course review to come). I hope it might help anyone develop their writing. But, particularly, Mums like me who only have pockets of time to write. By using some of my “free” time to work on the new blog, I hope to hone the skills I need to write the damn novel. Who knows, one day I might finish the work in progress?
So, don’t feel bad if you have been straying from your work in progress. New can be good for you!
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