Temptation – Does it matter what I write?

Does it matter what project I’m writing for as long as I’m continuing to practice the craft and get words on paper (or screen… whatever)?  That’s my big question today.  I want to finish my book.  I want to be a published author.  But does it need to be my focus when writing to the exclusion of all else?  I don’t know if this is coming up because I’m entering the 45 day grind period where my attention and focus on the project is starting to waver or what, but I definitely have the little devil on my shoulder whispering at me.

He’s urging me to do some short story contests.  There’s lots out there, some that you pay to enter, some that you don’t.  But my shoulder devil is telling me it’s time to work on one of those.

“You are already writing blogs… You already aren’t being dedicated.”
“How do you get better at writing if you don’t get something finished for critique?”
“It’s more important to get something out there than it is to finish the big book.”
“How will your potential readers know who you are if they don’t get hooked on your other works now?”
“You’ve had more focus than you’ve ever had.  You’re over the hump.  You can diversify safely now.”

These all feel pretty valid when he tells them to me, so I’m pretty eager to agree.  Sign me up.  I’m ready to jump on something new.  I pinky-promise, double-triple mega epic uber swear I’ll get right back to the novel after I finish this one short story.
Or two.
Or three.

Or more… How many contests are there?  I don’t want to limit my chances to reach some readers and tell some great stories.  I could write one for each, and still have plenty of time in the month to drive the novel.

Correction.  I could start several this month and have more pieces of literature to throw in the basket that isn’t finished, isn’t polished, isn’t sellable, isn’t a career.

I love to tell stories.  I don’t write to get rich.  I write because I have stories to tell.  A lot of stories to tell.  But I’m doing myself and (one would hope) the world a disservice by not finishing any of them enough to share.  I know I need to stay the course if I’m going to finish this.  My goal is a completed rough draft by the end of May.  I’m not sure if I’ll make it, but I know I can’t make it if I take on some other stories in the meantime.

Once the rough draft is finished, maybe I’ll take a breather on some short stories before diving into the editing and review stage.

But that doesn’t stop the call.  That doesn’t stop the whispers.  Finishing this story has to be my highest priority, and has to be worth it to the exclusion of everything else.

I hope.

What do you think?  Am I lying to myself, or am I focusing to my own detriment?  Does anybody else struggle with a desire to tell too many stories at once?  How have you overcome this problem?

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