New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

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New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby gonzo2802 » 13 Apr 2010, 08:28

I'm not sure if this is the norm or the exception to the rule, but I rarely have a shortage of story ideas. Some are small, barely more than a climax and an ending. Others, a whole involved plot starts playing out in my head like a movie. Doesn't sound like a problem, right?

Yeah, except these story ideas seem dead set on talking the loudest inside my head when I'm in the middle of concentrating on another WIP. I'm seriously beginning to think they do it on purpose, just to see how bad they can mess with my head.

Over the years I've learned that I HAVE to finish one project before I start another or I'll never come back and finish up the first. Hence my Old-Story Graveyard on my computer's hard drive. Sure I'll jot down notes and thoughts about the new ideas that come along, but I know I have to stay true to my WIP.

But those darned ideas start playing with me, saying things like ... "What if you're not as excited about us when you're done as you are right now?" . Or "What if we don't feel like sticking around that long?" Etc, etc, etc. My new story ideas are cruel to me, they really are.

Does anyone else have problems with this? How do you get those new ideas to shut up and let you work without worrying they'll abandon you?
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby Scribble » 13 Apr 2010, 08:50

I have exactly this problem, but like you I'm ignoring them and staying true to the course of finishing one story before I start another.
Some days are harder than others, but writing them down, however patchy the outline and then saving them off seems to do the trick for me.

I say Ignore their pesky voices - if they aren't as exciting when you come back to them, then maybe they aren't as good as they first seemed.

I've had loads of ideas, where at the time I thought 'Wow that's the bestest idea since sparkly vampires!' but later found them to be a bit meh when I read them back.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby Bohemienne » 13 Apr 2010, 09:27

I'm juggling two mss right now because of this, but I've at least managed to limit myself to that when I've got five more ideas banging down my door! It's nice to be able to swap back and forth for the change of scenery, and to help me to keep writing--when I'm stuck on one story, instead of sitting around and brooding I can switch over to the second. But it definitely FEELS like I'm going slower on the individual mss. And then all those ideas for other stories keep drifting past, some of them forgotten before I even have a chance to sort them out. Yikes!
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby Robin » 13 Apr 2010, 10:47

I hate it when that happens, but thats the price we pay for tapping into the creative realm :)
One thing you may want to consider is writing down the general concepts in a notebook, that way they are out of your head and you can return to them once you've completed your current WIP.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby tameson » 13 Apr 2010, 10:57

I second the idea of a notebook. I also think short stories are a good way to break up the monotony of one story all the time. And in theory, those shorts can get you some pub credits (mine haven't but I keep hoping). Shorts don't require querying or anything, so you just go to duotropes, put in e-mail submission and genre and just keep sending it down the list- very little work involved to have them out and no cost. :) The long ideas are jotted down in a notebook for later, so you know they won't be wasted.

I am thinking of starting another novel next week. I have done round one of edits on my current, where I think I have gotten the characters to stay in character, the plot consistent and logical and the general theme there. Next go through- fix word choice and description. And then find a sucker to crit it. But this might be a good place to put some distance between me and it.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby Bryan Russell/Ink » 13 Apr 2010, 11:24

Like Tameson, I sometimes write short stories to keep things fresh. You get that new story jolt without really interrupting your novel writing schedule.

As for losing ideas... the great ideas stay with you, or so I've found. It's the stuff that won't let you go that you have to write. I figure it takes a lot of story momentum to write a novel (though most aren't as fast as you, Blanche), to carry a writer through a whole book. Writing the draft day after day, only to finish and then revise, revise, revise... The story has to be something that really captures you, possesses you, and if it doesn't then the writing is going to be very difficult. And if it's going to slip away before you ever get to page one...? Probably not the idea that was going to turn into a great book. The good ones stay with you. They demand to be written.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby HillaryJ » 13 Apr 2010, 12:23

For awhile, I gave in to the insistent demand of the newest, shiniest idea...and then never finished anything. In order to finish a novel-length work, I have to not only be disciplined in my life (kid comes first, husband a distant second ;), housework, basic sanitation and socializing with friends who complain they've forgotten what I look like all jumble together), but also in my head.

Now, I pull up a fresh word doc and dump the idea, the scene/dialogue, or a couple pages of outline into a file, slap a name on it and save it in a folder called "Ideas and Starts". Sometimes, those scenes will find a way into the ms I'm working on. Otherwise, they have to wait until I finish my draft or stage, at which time I'll sift through and start on whichever one is calling the loudest. The strangest part is when I open one of them and have no memory of having written it, but gosh it sounds like a great/clever/cool idea. That's a rare delight.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby wilderness » 13 Apr 2010, 15:05

Totally, happens to me all the time. I do the same sort of thing as people suggested: dump all my thoughts on whatever is nearest. Then go back to my current WIP. And yes, 6 months later, I might not be as into that idea. It's tough, but you have to stay focused (easier said than done). :)
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby bronwyn1 » 13 Apr 2010, 16:11

I get those all the time!

Like now I'm supposed to be editing my completed MS but then I got two really excellent other novel ideas. And so I took a break from editing and started to write them both. Now I have writer's block on both of the incomplete ideas, so it's back to working on the complete MS...hahah
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby Emily J » 13 Apr 2010, 16:45

This happens to me all the time! It's very difficult to focus on the novel at hand when the siren song of that new idea is calling out to you!

Currently I guess I have give into that siren. I had outlined for a YA fantasy novel (to be the last in a 4 book series) and was all set to get writing... and then this Sci-Fi novel distracted me. In total, right now I have 3 novels partially written and 2 novels with complete outlines.

So yeah... I fail at ignoring those new ideas I guess :)
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby Sarah Enni » 13 Apr 2010, 16:59

I agree with the folks that suggest jotting down new ideas in a notebook or Word doc. Sure, some ideas might stick in your head and demand to be written. However, I've also turned a fleeting idea -- one I would have otherwise forgotten -- into something with serious novel potential by taking time to write it out.

I have two projects going right now, but one is my primary focus. Sometimes, when the blank screen taunts me, I start with my AWiP (alternative work in progress) to get the creative juices bubbling and then I find I can return to the WiP with renewed vigor. Taking the time to write other things once in a while keeps my mind fresh. All WiP and no play makes writing feel like hell sometimes.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby wildheart » 14 Apr 2010, 00:02

I agree with Ink. The great ideas will stay with you even after you finish your WIP. They will demand to be written, refuse to be forgotten. So keep writing your project and the ideas that you really love will still be with you!

And many writers, myself included, have to ignore new ideas while writing a project. In fact, I am dealing with that right this second. But like you I find that it is hard to go back to a story once I've put it on hold for something else. It usually sits on my laptop and is forgotten forever. I won't let that happen to this story. So I must persist. I must finish this project before working on the next.

Maybe when I am more experienced I can work on more than one project at once.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby Quill » 14 Apr 2010, 08:01

My current work is too demanding to consider starting something else. When ideas for other stories arise I notate them, usually feverishly, and then file them. What does interrupt my current work, however, is the need to make money. At the moment, my current work is shelved in order to replenish my coffers, after a solid winter's writing. Works for me.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby Aimée » 15 Apr 2010, 13:39

I say that unless you have a deadline for your WIP, then go ahead and write what you want to write! But then again, I follow this and now I have about seven WIPs. So, maybe you shouldn't do that.
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Re: New Ideas Interrupting Current Work

Postby marilyn peake » 16 Apr 2010, 22:07

My current approach is much like Ink’s and wildheart’s. I make myself either concentrate only on one writing project at a time or I interrupt my work on a novel to write short stories for a bit. Right now, I’m concentrating only on the editing of my science fiction novel, GODS IN THE MACHINE. When I take a break from that, it’s to relax or exercise. :)
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