My problem in a nut shell is that I am so antsy to get everything done that I get nothing done. That novel I told myself I would work on? Well, I have another one that’s itching to be written. That vow to work more on short stories? It’s just been pushed aside for a new –found interest in writing lyrics.
Some people who deal with this like to say that they are “A.D.D. with their writing.” However, unless you actually have attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, that’s just all-round inaccurate. There is in fact a correct term for what I and many other writers suffer from: Shiny New Idea Syndrome or S.N.I.S.
Having S.N.I.S. is not a curse. In fact, I have come to realise that plenty of writers struggle with forming ideas at all. To be in a position where you have the luxury – nay, the temptation – to choose is a great one. The difficulty is in how you handle that situation.
It would be easy to say that you should forbid yourself from working on anything other than a certain project for a set period of time – and that does factor into the solution – but to keep yourself from writing something that begs to be written is a travesty. Thus, what is to be done?
1. Do set a period of time to work on a project. Get the first draft of a short story written in a week. Set aside a month to focus on a revision of your novel. Decide which time of day you can set aside to write and stick to it, making sure you butt does not leave that chair except for emergencies, e.g. natural disasters and toilet breaks.
2. Make sure you have a decent writing space. Sort out your desk and shut yourself away in your room for a while or go to the library and settle yourself there for an afternoon. Closing yourself off to write may seem like a lonely business but it is actually exhilarating to submerge yourself in the world of your writing. Did I mention productive?
3. If you have the urge to write something other than the project you have devoted your time to, do it. You don’t want to be kicking yourself later because you had an excellent idea for another story or song and you forbade yourself to write it down. That’s just nonsensical. However, once you are done with the urgency, put it aside for later and go back to the project at hand. Do not allow it to usurp all your attention.
Those are my three basic steps to overcoming S.N.I.S. They may not seem like much but they are the essential foundation to getting things done when you have a wandering mind.
Do you suffer from S.N.I.S. at all? What helps you to stick with one project until the end?