The Sexy New Idea is the voice that whispers in your ear when you’re slogging through a draft of your WIP, promising to be better, faster, and more fun than your stupid current project.
The Sexy New Idea says it’s the story you were meant to be writing all along, and that you’re just wasting your time on this dumb old book.
The Sexy New Idea says you should probably just quit working your current project and start a new one! It will never get boring or hard, says the Sexy New Idea. It will be fast and easy and amazing and pretty soon you’ll land a huge advance and make a blockbuster film and finally be able to afford that mountain chalet you’ve had your eyes on.
People, do NOT listen to the Sexy New Idea! Keep slogging through the middle of your WIP! Just write the ending! Just finish this draft! Write the Sexy New Idea down in your idea book and come back to it when you have time!
Recently, two of the members of my writers group have walked away from works in progress to pursue Sexy New Ideas, and they are both awesome. Both are coming quickly, with strong voices, great scenes, and an ease in the writing that belies their first draft nature. Each time the rest of the group gets to see new pages, we say, “Thank god you followed your Sexy New Idea!”
Personally, I walked away from a manuscript last year to begin working on a Sexy Other Idea (not new — it’s one I’ve been messing with for a long time). I kept wrestling with my work in progress, trying to shape it into something it wasn’t, trying to make it pretty when it refused to get into a nice box and grow itself a plot. I’d always imagined that Sexy Other Idea would be my third book, not my second, but when I gave myself permission to walk away from the WIP and start working on Sexy Other Idea, I felt this profound sense of relief and for the first time in months, I was actually excited to write.
So check yourself: are you tempted by the Sexy New Idea because you’re bored of your current project? Are you ALWAYS tempted by a Sexy New Idea at this stage in the process? Do you have a million story beginnings and no endings? Then get thee back to the WIP, friend, and keep your ass going. Write down your Sexy New Idea in your Big Book O’ Ideas — it will still be there when you’re finished with this one!
But. If you’re usually good at finishing what you start, or if your WIP really is a disaster and the best thing you could possibly give it would be a time-out to think about what it’s done, and if the Sexy New Idea is REALLY sexy and the character is basically hitting you over the head with her quirky voice and compelling story, then go for it! Chase that Sexy New Idea! Maybe it will live up to all its sexy promises and take you on the ride of your life.
Fess up, friends: when have you followed that Sexy New Idea — for better or for worse?