Don’t Be Distracted by the Shiny

I have yet another new rule. You may remember Schaff-Stump’s First Rule of Writing:

THOU SHALL NOT SEND OUT CRAP. (which boils down to multiple drafts, multiple readings of the work by others, going with the gut instincts of which suggestions feel right to implement, and feeling the satisfaction of a job well done. which does not mean holding on to a work until it’s perfect.)

Well, here’s Schaff-Stump’s Second Rule of Writing:

DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY THE SHINY.

What on earth does that mean????

As far as I can see, this breaks down into three things.

1. Don’t get distracted by that new idea that comes your way. This will always happen as you are working on a project and you are creatively stimulated. Take some notes, sure, but don’t interrupt the work in progress, else you will never be motivated to solve those middle novel blues.

2. Don’t be distracted by the short term. This one is for me, especially. Your mileage might vary. But I’ve had the opportunity to write several short stories these last months, and I appreciate the offers. However, what I want is to write what’s in my head, and that’s mostly novels. If I fall off into short stories, I am delaying the time it takes for me to complete my novels. The time to write shorter projects is when I’m working on shorter projects, which I could do whenever I want and will. But I want to be a novelist and plan to write mostly novels. So there.

And I have to tell you, the time turn around on short stories is very tempting. Many writers I know, who have started out when I did, are SFWA members or associates on the basis of short stories. Nothing wrong with that. That’s just not where I’m going or what I’m doing. So, no short term for me. I’m not sure I’ll be joining SFWA anyway, should that point come, but that’s another essay, really.

3. Don’t be distracted by publication. Art harder. I’m not going to learn to write by worrying about whether I have an agent or I’m published. I’m going to learn to write by writing a lot and learning about writing and getting better about writing. Yes, it’s nice to day dream and talk, and I’ll do that. But mostly, I’ve got to write and keep writing and art hard. If I keep my eyes on that, well, then, the hope is that I’ll get published eventually. But even if I don’t, I’ll have some lovely things to self-publish when I actually do retire. 😀

So, that’s it. Keep my head down and write, and stay focused. I expect that one day I’ll get there, but until then, I plan to write the best I can, send it out, and try to stay focused.

Happy writing. I have to go register some more students.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Be Distracted by the Shiny”

  1. We did a panel on ‘Writing past Chapter 3’ last weekend, and those are very good guidelines. They need to concentrate on working like it’s a ‘real’ job, and not give in to the urge to be artistically flighty ;o)

  2. The short story “distraction” is an issue for me too. I like writing them to hone my craft, but usually theY end up being novel sketches instead of short stories. Great for the idea file, but they take up time I *should * be spending on the novel WIP. And I hear you on SFWA… on the one hand I want to be noticed on the other, the culture there…yikes.

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