Monday, January 9, 2017

How do you deal with Writer ADD?

A post by Mary Fan
I have a major case of Writer ADD… that is, I can’t decide what to work on next. While I’ve always
had multiple ideas kicking around my head at once, I can usually hunker down long enough to finish one first draft before starting another.

This time’s different. I’m finally getting back into my writing groove, but it’s as if all the books I didn’t write during my slump are demanding to be written at once. Originally, I was going to work on the experimental magical realism book I’ve been plotting forever (a few pages of which I shared on this blog for a CRITEEK!). Maybe it’s just because this one’s hard to write, or maybe it’s because I’m not confident I can make it what I want it to be, or maybe it’s because I’m fairly sure it’ll never be marketable, and the mercenary side of myself is asking why I’m bothering… whatever the case, a clawing, pestering part of me keeps demanding that I work on something different, even though I’m already several chapters into the first draft.

I finally caved and decided to give a second WIP a go, just to see what would happen. Since I kept hitting walls on WIP 1, I figured starting WIP 2 in the meanwhile couldn’t hurt. WIP 2 is much more my usual speed… YA sci-fi, though a bit different from what I usually write in that it’s less adventure-y and more contemplative… more the Interstellar kind of space story than the Star Wars kind. Since the tone’s so different from what I’m accustomed to writing, I’m once again hitting a wall.

I’ve never been afraid to switch up styles before—in fact, I like never writing the same book twice—but I feel like I’ve wandered further outside my comfort zone than usual with both these WIPs. That’s probably a good thing in the long run… after all, trying new things is the only way we grow. But I’m not entirely sure if now’s the right time… after all, it took me months to feel like writing again (like, want-to-sit-down-everyday-and-eagerly-bang-out-words writing, rather than beat-words-out-of-myself writing). Maybe now’s not the best time to be challenging myself… part of me just wants to write a just-for-fun book. Something easy that practically writes itself.

Which brings me to potential WIP 3... an idea that hit me completely out-of-the-blue. I don’t have any concrete outlines or notes for it yet… all I know is that it’ll be about a warrior girl in a cursed kingdom who gets to fight monsters of some kind and enjoy a fluffy romance that ultimately leads to happily-ever-afters all around. In other words, I want to write a Disney movie of a book.

Great. That’s three potential WIPs right there. I worry that I’ll start #3, only to get five chapters in and decide I want to work on something else entirely. I’m hoping that brainstorming it will help get it out of my system for now, so I can at least finish something. But who knows…  I’m seriously considering rolling a die to pick a WIP, and then sticking it out until the bitter end, however it turns out.

Does Writer ADD ever get to you? And if so, how do you deal with it?


  1. Oh, I know what you mean! I do struggle with this. My current WIP is taking so much longer than my others, and I've considered dropping it to start something else. It took me a long time to get into it, and I changed the style a few times in the beginning. But I forced myself to stick with it. I've realized now, it's the kind of book that just needs time. It has a touch of magical realism and I want to get that right. It's also in a teenage boy's PoV, which has scared the crap out of me. To get by, I have written some short stories in my 'down' times with the WIP and drafted out ideas for other books. It has also helped to be in a critique group as they want to see the new chapters each month. And there are a couple men in the group, so that has helped my fears of keeping true to a male PoV. I guess my suggestion is to go with your heart (even, or maybe especially, if it scares you) and just give it the patience that it needs to develop properly. You'll hit your stride with it eventually.

    1. Thank you!! Yeah I'm beginning to think the magical realism is just the kind of WIP that needs time... I can't just bang out a first draft like I do for my more genre stuff. Strange territory...

  2. This is me all the time. So many ideas floating around at once -- which one to grab? I don't think there is a way to deal with us other than to just pick one and go.

  3. I thought I was the only one? Thank God. I jump, roll, ignore, return, cry, pick at scabs, and start something new all before 10:00 am. I did join a writing group that has deadlines so I am eventually pulled back like a high school student cramming for a history test. Write on...

    1. Lol!! Yeah I'm so used to project managing myself, but now my brain just wants to run wild...


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