Brilliant Diversions of the Lazy Brain
Brains, being... you know, brains, are so darned clever about getting out of work. Especially sustained, detailed work, such as the writing of a novel. Aside from the everyday diversions mine throws at me -- surfing (channel or 'Net), computer games (another round of Scrabble, anyone?), household chores (on rare occasions), Starbucks (where I accomplish nothing) -- I have to contend with the coup de grace, the blindingly-brilliant diversionary idea.
This "brilliant" idea invariably occurs when the going gets tough on the project-in-progress. Inspiration, by this point, has faltered, and there's nothing to do except trudge through the neck-deep, icy muck of hard, mental labor to find my way to the other side. False starts are inevitable and hours of wasted work quite likely. Then, out of the blue, I'm awakened at two or three AM with the idea: the most perfect, wonderful, sure-fire concept for a book that anyone, anywhere has every conceived. My agent will go crazy. A bidding war will erupt. People will line up to buy multiple copies (one to read, one to loan, and one to keep pristine, as an investment).
Move over J.K. Rowling, because my world domination is assured.
In all my excitement, I can't go back to sleep. Besides, if I do that, I might forget this incredible idea. So I jot it down on a notepad I keep beside my bed for just such emergencies. Then I try to catch a few more Zs.
Sometimes, when I wake up and read my hastily-scribbled notes (when they're legible), I can see the truth of it. Other times, I waste a few hours typing rapid-fire notes to flesh out the idea before I force myself back to my contracted work. But almost invariably, when I have time to actually work on this "fabulous" idea, I see it for what it was. A will-o'-the-wisp, that leads me off the path and into danger. A mirage on the horizon, whose shimmer distracts me from digging to the hidden spring beneath my feet.
For me, a truly good idea develops over time. It pulls at my subconscious like a lodestone and comes together slowly, bit by bit. To reach its potential, it requires hard work, almost daily, along with the commitment to see it through to the end.
So what does your brain do to distract you from the true course? And what techniques do you use to ignore its protestations and finally reach "the end"?