I sat down to work on my WIP today, and suddenly found myself writing another story entirely. It's a whole new novel, one much darker and edgier than anything I've ever written before. However, it came to me last night in a burst, whole, complete with a beginning, an end, some semblance of a middle, and a very clear main character who spoke to me and outright told me his name. When I didn't really like the name he offered me, he argued with me that that was his name, and I could give him another if I liked that other people could call him by to add depth to his character, but that that was his name. Who was I to argue? It actually made sense with the story I'd been given, so I decided to sit down this morning and see where it went.
It was one of those writing experiences that is truly a gift - where you sit down in front of the computer and the book just begins to write itself. The words flowed freely and I knew where the story was going, which is not always the case for me. I know I should be working on my other WIP, but this story is demanding my attention. It wants to be written, and now. Has this happened to you?
The truth is, I'd reached the dreaded murky middle of my WIP, and I was not as excited to dive into it because I wasn't sure what I wanted to have happen next. Therefore, writing something else entirely might, in fact, be the best thing I could do to save my other story. Sometimes, it really can be a good thing to take a break from a work that starts to feel forced and is not flowing naturally and work on something completely different. You're still writing, still being creative, and you can always come back to the work later with a fresh eye.
I love that this project is not my normal style of writing. It feels refreshing and inspiring to write more dramatically. It allows me to draw richer characters that don't rely on humor and dialogue as much to move them through their story. It allows me to work on my description and emotional interplay between the characters and the intensity of the world around them. It feels like what I should be working on, as evidenced by the fact that I sat down and wrote over 20 pages today, which is unheard of for me.
When it comes to writing, go with your gut. Don't be locked into one story, whatever you might be working on, and feel like you can't work on something else if the muse strikes you. Go with the flow. There's nothing wrong with having several stories going at once, and having the option of working on wherever your head and your heart takes you that day, especially if the pieces are drastically different.
If you're not comfortable with completely switching gears, take time to jot down notes of what comes to you. Write out whole scenes, even if they're out of context. You can always come back to them later. Stay with the idea while it's fresh in your mind, even if you need to back burner it for awhile, but you won't be scratching your head trying to remember the details later. Good luck!