Or: when the path becomes a quagmire or has boulders blocking it, or thorned bushes growing close on each side.
In other words--you've picked a path and determined to go down it and you're going along and it gets nasty.
Part of the problem? If you think of each new idea as being like a first date--only unlike first dates, you already know that you adore the new idea. But it feels like the rush of first love, ah, romance. This is the one! Perfection! Joy! But of course as you continue to date and get deeper into a relationship and it becomes more complex and layered, hmmm.
And after the honeymoon, when you're slogging along thinking "Do I have to rewrite this scene AGAIN?" (Why do I always have to do the dishes?) or "I'm so sick of working on this painting, I can't stand to look at it" (She's not going to tell that same story AGAIN is she?) or "What am I doing out here in this wretched weather waiting to take a photo? (I hate golfing in the rain, but my honey loves to golf, so...).
Like everything else we commit to, we have to commit because sooner or later it becomes work, sometimes hard work. Although the passion is still there, it may be hard to feel it when you're slogging through the muck of a muddy path or clambering over huge boulders or wincing from thorns.
Okay, yes, I'm mixing analogies and metaphors and images, but you get the idea.
What to do when the road gets rocky or the first flush of passion is only a dim memory?
First, remember. Remember not just that first flush of excitement, but remember when you decided to commit to this particular work. Remember why. Remember the strength of that commitment. And remember the passion you felt.
Second, take a conscious break. Sometimes the way through the mud is to step out of it. Not for so long that you forget where you were on the path, or go down another one, but long enough to get another perspective (see, if I do this the path dries out).
Jump over the boulders. That's the amazing thing about any creative project, unlike paths and relationships, you don't have to be linear. You're not trapped in straight time. And we're creative people, we can think outside the box, or path, or relationship we have with the work. Struggling with your novel? Write the last scene, or another later scene, or rewrite an early scene and then return and see if that hasn't pathfound a way through.
Next post, when to give up and turn back and abandon the path or divorce it. Dave of Pics and Poems was right when he commented in the previous post But paths change. What looks promising is often disappointing...
What do you do when you hit a rough patch in a w.i.p.? Do you have any tricks or treats (it's October) that help?