I just returned from my first week of vacation. I’ve written before about the importance of rejuvenation time and how I get new story ideas in my sleep. I won’t rehash that here. I will say that, after a week away with family and hiking the Cape Breton highlands, I’m ready to get back to heavy writing. And that’s the problem.
I’m taking three weeks off everything else so I can work on book projects without interruption and with total focus. I’ll be working on publishing books, but I hereby resolve to do very little new writing. It takes discipline, but I have to power through the affliction that is calling me to write a new novel. (I do have a few last chapters to write for a book I’m doing with my friend Armand Rosamilia. Other than that, I’m revising and editing.)
My resolution to revise and edit is a big deal because I’ve suffered Shiny Jingly Keys Syndrome (SJKS) all year.
I’ve got many manuscripts banked. One manuscript is a very ambitious one that is now years old. It’s still waiting for me to get back to it, wailing for release from the bottom drawer and making a ruckus at night when I’m trying to sleep. It’s not that I’m lazy, exactly. I have written six new novels this year. However, they remain unpublished. A novel is a full marathon and I’m only running half-marathons. Blame SJKS. (I recently published my time travel novel, Wallflower, but I wrote that two years ago.)
My SJKS pattern goes like this: I finish a draft or two and then I rush on to the next book. I have plenty of ideas and I want to get them all written. The story faucet’s washers are blown and that tap won’t turn off. I’d much rather write new stories. Slowing down to go back and edit isn’t sexy. Writing the next book instead of truly finishing the last one is the cardinal sign of Shiny Jingly Keys Syndrome.
Writing a fresh book certainly feels productive, though, doesn’t it? That’s what makes it such a cunning trap. SJKS becomes procrastination when the new project is a way to avoid dealing with the nitty gritty of half finished, never published books. Writing anew is a tricky way to procrastinate. I forgive myself too easily for not finishing a manuscript because, hey! I’m writing here! Leave me alone!
We always muster more clarity for other people’s problems. A couple of writers asked me which of their projects they should finish first. Inevitably, one project is more alluring than another. Maybe one novel (probably the newest one) feeds the author’s passion. Maybe they are less enthused about one manuscript but they figure that’s the one that will make them more money. The pull among projects is real but the solution is simple.
When authors ask me which book they should finish first, my answer is, “Work on the book that is closest to done. Get shit done. Finish. Publish.”
Time for me to take my own advice. My vacation was needed and refreshing. Now it’s heavy revision time.
~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. While I’m away editing, you could always check out what I have managed to publish. Twenty books or so should keep you busy until the new ones are ready. Check me out at AllThatChazz.com.