Ask the Coach: Help! Do I Abandon My Current Script for a New Idea? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the next installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!

This month’s question is about whether to abandon a current script in favor of a new idea, or not:

“I recently committed to working on a particular script idea, and almost instantly became fascinated by another story entirely. Should I move to the new idea? Or is this a distraction getting in my way?”

Great question. Ultimately, this is a choice no one else can make for you, but here are some possibilities about what’s going on, and some possible strategies to consider.  [more…]


When it comes to choosing what to focus on, and possibly letting go of a current idea, there’s a lot to reflect on. Brand, career, preference, genre, instinct, market, and more. And because there’s often a fine line between recognizing resistance versus intuition, pay attention to how and when new ideas come cropping up. The beauty of writing is how it begets new ideas. It’s your job as a creator to corral that surging herd into a manageable strategy that works for you.


If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

Every writing project is an investment

Every project I work on – especially when it’s a long-form piece – has begun to feel like an investment: In myself, in my writing, in my future.

Each one starts out seeming so simple. Just an idea. But it builds over time into a complex story. With questions and puzzles and logic challenges and logic flaws and doubts. All of which have to be solved. 

And it takes time to crack those puzzles.

Even though I’ve been able to move from concept to outline to draft much more quickly now than I have in the past, it’s more than just a matter of pace and production. It’s also about depth and attention — preoccupation even — for a period of my life. It’s about making a commitment to a story that occupies my time, my thoughts, my subconscious, my dreams. It occupies ME. 

When I hear the stories of how many drafts it took to write The Sixth Sense and how many before he “got” the big idea, I appreciate even more what an investment a story is. Learning to tell it well. To refine it, hone it, pare away the unnecessary bits. All the rewriting. It’s no small thing.

And yet we dive into these stories with such hope and abandon. “This one will be different,” we tell ourselves. “It’ll practically write itself! I’ll be done before I know it.”

The grass is always greener

Just tonight I happened upon a journal entry from last year, where I was lamenting about how ready I was to write something new as I was slogging through a major rewrite. And since then, I have. And now I’m feeling about the new project the way I was feeling about the thing I was rewriting at the time. Or possibly worse. :)

Isn’t that funny, how the grass is always greener on the next project?

I think that must be part of the drive behind “bright shiny object syndrome” and the resultant project hopping we writers can get into. Those other projects look so much more appealing than our current moldy one, all banged up and warty and flawed.

No wonder we leave trails of unfinished projects behind us like breadcrumbs leading to a trove of forgotten dreams.

I think there may also be a hesitation to fully commit to a second or third or next project because we know what a major big deal it is having been through earlier projects. I can see why “second novel syndrome” may be more than an issue of simply exceeding the quality of one’s prior work! It’s also about psyching ourselves up for the next step in our writer’s journey.

Difficult but worth doing

Because really, it’s why we’re here, right? To write? 

So whether we’re starting our first project or our tenth, or rewriting yet another draft, it’s about facing the work. Finding the courage to do it. Stewing in the crummy, awkward, and sh*tty rough draft writing we’ve created or wrestling with the new story choices and puzzles, while we twist uncomfortably, grasping at straws, wondering how on earth to solve or fix it. It’s painful!! Who would want to subject herself to that?

No wonder we jump to other things.

But when I think of each project as an investment, it changes the picture for me.

It becomes worth it to put in the time.

It changes from the wretched torture of rewriting a terrible rough draft or struggling to pull the pieces together to something difficult but worth doing.

What about you?