Friday, April 10, 2015

A to Z Challenge: Ideas

Usually, the whole writing journey starts with a single idea. You're probably going to get that new idea while you're innocently reading a book or watching a movie. 

Maybe you already have the first beginnings of an idea forming in your mind. That stirring in your soul when you close the book. That thought about: This can't be the end. What about so-and-so? What will happen to them if something or the other happens? 

And then, the next thing you know, you have an idea. Some people dismiss that idea and open a new book. Some of us, though, are consumed by that idea until we just want to write a few pages to get it out. 

But a few pages isn't enough. So you write a few more. 

You fall in love with the idea. With the characters. With the sheer joy of exploring your newly created scenario. With the joy of pure creation. 

At this point, my friend, you're screwed. 

The muse has you hooked, and she's a cruel cruel mistress. You'll be grumpy and agitated when you don't write. And often wracked by fears and doubts as you do. And yet somehow, you're still simply not happy unless you're writing. 

And then, as you settle into the routine (you know, the way people who ride a roller coaster again and again eventually can sleep on it.), things become complicated. 

Because while you adore the story you're working on, a new idea comes to you. 

Now suddenly you have a choice. Most new kids (me included when I was there) let my inspiration and ideas carry me from project to project. But the thing is, it's a real risk that you'll end up getting lost in your million new ideas. So lost that you won't know which one to pick up and which one to let lie. 

That's when the new kids start crying something along the line of: "Oh I just can't finish projects!" 

Well... no. You haven't taught yourself how to see anything through. Trust me on this: your muse is a terrible enabler. She will give you five new ideas for every single one you start. And five for each of those. And so on. 

It's your job to say: "Thanks muse, but can we please finish this story first?" 

It's always a choice you're making, even if you don't realize it yet. But if you ever want to get done, you need to commit to finishing one thing. Then the next. And the next. 

Or, you might be like me and you'll learn how to actually work on seven projects at any given time and still finish all of them in a year. 

But that's a skill I learned first by learning how to finish one book, and then two. So focus on that first. Focus on finishing your stories, or your ideas will remain ideas only. 

Where did your first idea strike you? How soon after that did the second idea hit? 


  1. Very very true! I have a novel, written but not edited. Already new ideas about how I should have written it are popping into my head... horrors..

  2. Ha, ha, ha. You are very funny, but honest. One thing at a time brought to conclusion one character at a time ought to do it.
    Blessings with the a-z challenge, Geoff (now in Johannesburg, yuck!)

  3. I think I can focus on one sort of story universe at a time, but I jump back and forth between which book in the series I want to work on, which can get overwhelming and confusing.

  4. You know, jumping from project to project has never been a problem for me. When I started writing, that one idea was all I had. I didn't get more ideas until I actually started writing. Now, ideas come more readily, but I'm not really tempted to pursue them. At least, not at the cost of my main project. I managed to write and publish a novella while still working on my main novel, and I'm pretty pleased about that. :D

  5. This is one thing (maybe the only thing LOL) that I don't have a problem with. I'm kind of the opposite and wish I could be disciplined enough to work on more than one project at a time.

  6. I only have one idea at a time, which I guess is a good thing.

  7. You made me laugh with that "you're screwed" bit. It's the truth! I have ideas popping up all the time. Most are just silly and end up as a mention or nothing at all, but the gems stay in my mind, grow, and if they're patient, they get written down.

  8. "Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen." My favorite John Steinbeck quote.

  9. I've had a lot of story ideas that just never get fleshed out! Writing fiction is so much harder than just writing about your life!

  10. Been there a lot. I'm working on focusing, but life is fighting me every inch of the way.

  11. It doesn't really happen that way for me. When I'm in the middle of a story, it's all consuming and if I do get a new idea, it gets filed away to be looked at properly later. The downside is I don't always know what to do next if I do finish a project!

  12. Stopping by to see you during the #Challenge. Always love to find other writers blogs. Congrats on your blog that is highly readable and uncluttered that always distracts me from the writing. Good for you. If you have a minute, come and see me during this busy April for all of us.

  13. I love when an idea pops into my head, but if I'm in a middle of a book it sucks. Because I can only concentrate on my book at a time. I have tried writing several stories and they're sitting on my computer waiting....

  14. I really can't remember my first ever idea... I think i've already had story ideas in my head:) But generally, ideas pop in my head everywhere... usually when I see something out of the ordinary. A strange behaving person, watching a movie, someone says something... and then my head starts forming a story around it:) So I have lots of scribbled notes with potential ideas:)

  15. I love this post - it's so true. I think the reason I never managed to finish a book before this year is because I kept getting side-tracked by new ideas. I still got new ideas while writing my book, but I learnt the hard way to ignore them. Now I'll generally scribble it down while it's fresh in my mind, but then I won't look at it again until I'm taking a break from my current WIP, or I'll set aside some designated time to work on it. It's been a huge learning curve, but at least I know that I'll have a bank of ideas to choose from when I do finally finish my current series ;)

  16. Haha. This post couldn't have summed up the writer's problem of having too many ideas to choose from. I think very few writers face this struggle. I am not one of those lucky few, but I've learned to control myself.

    I believe author Rachel Hawkins called them "sl*tty new ideas" (censoring myself there), and it's the truth. They'll seduce you away from your current WIP, so watch out!

    I've learned better by getting through that first book. And it's just like you wrote here, Misha, I'd advise any new writers to finish that first novel and THEN see how you feel the next time a new idea struts up to you and tries to take you for a ride. ;)

  17. Hahahaha that happens to me too, Carole.

    Very true, Geoff. Thanks for stopping by!

    Sarah, that can be confusing.

    You're lucky, Sara.

    Lucky you, Julie. :-)

    Definitely is, Alex.

    Christine, that's how I work too.

    Hahaha Bish, that's an awesome quote.

    Dee, I agree.

    Lee, I know that feeling.

    That in itself can become a vexing problem, Nick.

    Thanks for stopping by, Stepheny!

    Cathrina, timing of an idea is everything, isn't it?

    Tania, I do that too.

    Good approach, Rachel. :-)

    Hahahaha Hanna, that's a very apt definition for a SNI.


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