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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ideas can be overwhelming.

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and I haven't participated in Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Group in a while, so I decided it was time.

The biggest fear for so many authors is writer's block.  What do you do when you're stuck?  For me, another problem hits me hardest.  What to do when you have too many ideas and not enough time to develop them?

Currently, I have two completed novels which are both having a little work done, so to speak.  In addition, I have a half a sequel written, starts on two short stories, two novel ideas with pages written/character sketches/rough outlines, and a list of other potential ideas. In the past week, I edited one chapter. Hrmph.  Something isn't adding up.

And that's before I add in life stuff like jobs, holidays, kids, etc.

Sometimes, the projects, the to do lists, the ideas all feel too daunting to bother.  Why not give up?  I think this happens with so many things in life.  Hoarders and people who live in those extreme messes must get to that point.  It's just too much to do, so I won't do anything at all.  What about a bad relationship? And addiction? How can you keep yourself from waving the white flag?

I wish I had magic answers, but here are a few things that I use when things get overwhelming:

1. Set a timer.  Do something. Anything. It doesn't matter if you finish, but it's about building the culture of progress.

2. They say to start at the beginning, but sometimes, it's hard to find it. Start with the smallest, most concrete part of the project, just to get a sense of accomplishment. Then complete it. Move on to the next. I use this a lot with grading papers.

3. Ask someone else to help you evaluate your ideas.  Their enthusiasm may be contagious and it can tell you where to focus your energy for a while.

4. Even if you have too many ideas already when the plot bunny bounces across your brain, take time to feed it.  Even if it's just jotting down some notes and writing a few pages, that is progress in and of itself.

5. Set goals. And the re-evaluate them.  You already know I'm a goal-setter, but they don't have to be set in stone.  Be forgiving. 

Ideas are good. I know it's probably better than being blocked, but managing them is still a challenge. What else do you do to keep from going crazy when you have too many ideas or too much to do and not enough time? 


  1. I like those ideas! I have an ending in mind for my third book but I've been stuck when it comes to the rest of the story. This weekend, I'll just write down the ending and see what happens.
    Thanks for participating in the IWSG!

  2. great post! thanks for the wonderful ideas. :)