Torn Between Two Loves

(Scroll down for bonus video.  It's Mary McGregor singing "Torn Between Two Lovers."  You know you want to watch it.)

Please tell me this has happened to you.

You're happily writing, making good some forward progress on your novel when all of a sudden, out of nowhere one morning, comes an idea.   Inspiration for another novel.  An idea so beautiful and fully formed that you have no choice–none!–but to stop what you're doing and start writing it.

In this process, you decide that the other novel–the one you were making forward progress on, albeit a bit slowly–is crap, and that that is the obvious reason why you sometimes spin your wheels a bit.  It is all so clear to you now……

Old novel=piece of @%^&*

New novel=wonderful, priceless, shimmering jewel beyond compare

You dive into the new work.  Write some notes on chapter one, begin compiling characters, setting and plot lines.  The jewel glimmers brightly.

Until one day an idea for the old, piece of $(%^& novel sneaks through the consciousness and you open a file to make a note and accidentally start reading.  Hmmm, you say to yourself, it's really not so bad after all.  Perhaps it is not quite the piece of %^$&* that I thought it was.

And then you find yourself with two novels you want to write.

What to do, what to do?

Many writers, myself included, have written about how important it is to actually finish the things you start.  Half-completed novels and stories do not get published.   Some writers, like Dean Wesley Smith, have even gone so far as to state that the reason for their success is that they have learned to finish things.

Then there are those writers like Jess Walter, who says that the secret to his success is to have many projects going at once.  Then when he gets stuck on one WIP, he can switch over to another.

The latter idea appeals to me.  Because I balance multiple projects (ghostwriting, manuscript critiquing, teaching, blogging) in my non-fiction writing life, it doesn't bother me to switch back and forth between novels. 


I am feeling the urge to finish something, and I had previously set a goal of completing the draft of the piece of %^#$% novel by the end of the year.  And if I switch back and forth that won't happen.  I barely have enough time to work on one novel as it is.

So at this point in the year, I really want to focus on one novel.  (And besides, there's nothing better than the feeling you get when you are totally engaged in writing a novel, and I doubt that happens when you are switching back and forth.)

I think I have come up with a plan.  But then again, I'm not sure.  Because things seem to change rapidly around here these days.  So I put it to you–what would you do?  Have you ever run into this dilemma?  How did you solve it? 

Please comment!  I'm all ears.

And let us not forget the video: