Are You Polyamorous With Your WIPs?

It happens to the best of us.  We’re booking it through writing a book, then – WHAM! – it hits you like a box truck going under 11-foot-8.

You have another book you want to write even more.



You’re so close to finishing that book.  You’ve got to stay on track, got to get that done so you can start editing, submitting, publishing, etc. etc…

In this case, you decide to keep working on that book.  It hurts – your mind feels the pain of trudging through a story you don’t want to write.  You must simply hope the story doesn’t suffer like you are.

If you’re close enough to the end, this strategy works out.  You’ll reach the end triumphant.  But, if you’ve got a little longer to go, each day causes you consternation.  That other book’s still lingering, dying to be written.



Finally, you must give in.  It was just too much, and you felt like continuing the original story was going to fail anyway.  Sure, first drafts all need editing, but you wouldn’t want to look forward to what you’d have to edit…

Just a couple chapters, just enough to get that new idea down, and you’re back to your old story.  If you can write just a little on this ‘other story,’ then you’re much more likely to come back to it and remember what a great idea it had been.

But there’s a risk with doing this.  Sometimes, those chapters are like a gateway drug.  This new book is so enticing, so fun, and offers new challenges and plots.


Ok.  You can handle two books at once.  You were so far ahead with the first one, anyway, that they’ll end up finished at about the same time.

You’ve got the skills.  You’ve got the will.  Now all you need is a little more leeway with that timeline you’d originally had to get that book finished.



That first book was never what you wanted anyway.  That book was predictable garbage.


So don’t feel bad for leaving it for something new.  Sometimes you just need a break, and sometimes it’s simply good for you.  It’s better to write something new, something less likely to be published/finished/loved, than to write nothing at all.



I recently went through this full cycle.  I was almost done with American Chimera, my latest novel-length project, when I got completely distracted by something that doesn’t deserve to see the light of day.

Have you ever cheated on your novel?  Do any of these steps resonate with you?  Let me know in the comments!

15 thoughts on “Are You Polyamorous With Your WIPs?

  1. Alexander Elliott says:

    I feel your pain. Perhaps it’s a blessing I don’t have the time to cheat. My MO is to do one thing at a time until it’s done. When I get other great ideas, I write it all down and tuck it away for future use. I would never finish anything otherwise! If the idea is a worthy one, new ideas keep coming and I never quite forget about it. It’s one way to confirm that the idea is worth pursuing – even if I don’t have the time to write it.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I usually do work on one project at a time, but… damn, I let myself go down this slippery slope this time. I think part of it was that this past November my IRL work totally destroyed my interest in the old book, and I just wanted to write something – anything – now.

  2. Alexander Elliott says:

    Well, if it happens again…!

    I put a couple chapters of a book on hold for ten years, then picked it up, changed some things and turned it into full length novel. Even bad ideas can have some worthy ideas which are still usable, so keep the old book material for a while. You never know!

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