Too Many Story IDEAS!
Many of us experience, from time to time, the dreaded writers block, that awful feeling while staring at a blank page or screen when words do not flow, but what happens when there are too many story ideas bombarding our brains? It can be just as debilitating as staring at that blankness. Bizarrely the symptoms are quite similar – crippling indecision, procrastination, and even insomnia and anxiety over choosing the right course.
How to Identify if the New Story Idea is Worth Pursuing
As writers we usually have numerous story ideas bouncing around inside our heads, usually gleaned from something we see or hear. This may seem like a good problem to have; however, the dilemma is how do we ensure these golden nuggets are not lost, or are even worth investigating? We can make frantic notes, some of which, unfortunately make no sense whatsoever later on! That middle of the night scribble is so common – a phrase, a character trait or description, a scene or just a series of words. But timing is everything – musing over where a new idea could possibly lead, can become a devastating interruption to a current project. We all know the new ‘shiny’ thing syndrome!
So how do we identify if this ‘new’ idea is worth pursuing without jeopardizing our current writing project?
There are strategies we can employ to enable us to identify the story ideas that are worth keeping – here are a few.
Leave the chaos of your writing space with pen and paper or recording device and go for a walk or find a quiet place to reflect. Once you are in a new environment the most exciting and prominent idea(s) will stay with you. Write or record them and let your imagination flourish with them for a while. Delve into the characters, the initial plot and their setting and familiarize yourself with them.
Restrict your time on musing about new ideas by setting yourself a time limit. Even a ten-minute burst of inspirational writing will ensure you get the idea down, but not ‘waste’ too much time on it. (This is important when you are on a deadline!) Once it is written put it to one side and continue with your current project, safe in the knowledge the idea has been dealt with.
Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then mark it down as your next project. However, if the idea is vague, or has no ‘legs’ in regard to continuing into a substantial project – do not pursue it – just jot down the outline and file it for another time. We all have ‘unfinished’ projects filed away, some will see the light of day some other time, others not, that is the nature of this craft.
Utilize your passion when defining whether an idea is worth reflection or investigation. If it excites you or is on a subject you feel passionate about then, it should be considered in depth.
Get yourself an idea board, whether physical or virtual. Organize each idea into genre or categories and when a new plot idea, character or scene comes to you place it with the other components of that particular story or idea thread.
Bounce your ideas off a few trusted friends or members of your writing group. Feedback is so important at the initial stage of a story idea. It can lead you onward or the realization the idea has complications you have not foreseen.
Obviously, not all ideas will make it and that’s okay. Use your internal writer instinct to guide you on which idea excites your specific Muse, the one that takes hold of your imagination and let the words flow. Remember to be open to new genres and styles, this is how we learn our craft. If an idea is in a genre not previously explored, it may be your Muse steering you into new and exciting avenues. Story is our power and knowing which ones we are best at telling is key.
Mandy Eve-Barnett is a multi-genre author writing children’s, YA, and adult books. Her passion for writing emerged later in life and she is making up for lost time. With nine books published since 2011, she indulges her Muse in creative fiction as well as freelance writing. Mandy regularly blogs at www.mandyevebarnett.com and is a writing community advocate. As Secretary of her local writer’s group and the Alberta Authors Cooperative, as well as past-president of the Arts & Culture Council, she lives her creative life to the fullest. She hosts the monthly writer sharing meetings and creates writing prompts for the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. Mandy also presents various writing topics at conferences and seminars. Originally from England, Mandy now resides in Alberta, Canada. You can find Mandy across social media and her books through all the online purchasing sites and her publisher, Dream Write Publishing.
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