“The allure of the shiny thing” is a term coined by the writing professor I had for my first two semesters here at college, Marcia Brenner. This magnificent woman (a woman who graced the world with my favorite quote of all time: “Trump is like the Krampus of politics. We got him because we were bad.”) has bestowed upon me most of the life-changing knowledge about writing that I’ve gained so far while I’ve been attending college. All of my other teachers are great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s Marcia that has literally changed my writing life for the better. She’s the one who taught me about rewrites, and the different writing forms, and the allure of the shiny thing.
The reason I want to talk about the allure of the shiny thing is because IT IS EATING ME ALIVE RIGHT NOW. But before I can get into any of that, I should probably explain exactly what it is.
So. The allure of the shiny thing. When Marcia talked about this dastardly concept, she usually meant that you were writing something that was moving the plot along–dialogue, action, etc.–but then you were getting distracted by wanting to write something that seemed attractive to you, but wouldn’t do much for the plot in the long run. I.e. Extensive and unnecessary imagery or inner monologue. Most of the kids in my class that fell captive to the allure of the shiny thing usually didn’t feel comfortable writing dialogue or action, so they were using it as a form of procrastination. This isn’t my case, though. I’ve never really struggled with this, mostly because I absolutely suck at adding in enough imagery or description in the first place, much less wanting to add extraneous imagery or description. What I’m talking about is a broader sense of the term.
My shiny thing is the millions of “great” ideas that are suddenly popping into my head and vying for my attention while I know that I should be focusing on my novel right now. But no. My brain keeps telling me, “This novel can wait! What about that super awesome new novel idea that you just came up with yesterday that has absolutely no plot and only two not-fleshed-out characters! That’s the one you should be working on right now!” Honestly, I don’t know if this is just my brain’s way of trying to self-sabotage, but I am having none of it. So, at the moment, my brain and I are at a standstill. An impasse. A crossroads. It refuses to focus on my novel, so I refuse to work on the other “shiny thing” projects. And so we hold a staring contest. First one to blink loses.
I refuse to blink.
I’m stubborn like that.
The worst thing is, though, that I’m in the mood to write. I mean, that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to. But noooooooooooo, my brain absolutely refuses to focus on my novel. Honestly, it’s bumming me out. Maybe that’s why I decided to write this blog post. I at least needed to write something. Otherwise, I was going to go absolutely bonkers. I mean, I guess I could work on my homework assignments, but those aren’t fun. Even when they’re fiction writing assignments, I don’t enjoy writing them. I think I just have an aversion to homework, though, and that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, let me know in the comments if you’ve ever struggled or are currently struggling with the allure of the shiny thing. If you have any hints or tips on how to move past it, please share, because I don’t think I can take much more of this. Save me from myself.
P.S. I realize that I hop back and forth between positive and negative posts a lot. Like, my last post was all “Here’s hoping I become a published author soon” and this one is more like “I’M DYING HELP.” For me, that’s just the process. Good days and bad days. Weeks of roaring inspiration and then a month of trudging through even my most beloved projects. Hey, nobody said that creativity was easy.