I am gradually working my way through a story but then out of the blue comes a great idea for a separate story. I really like the idea and want to start writing it but I am in the middle of a separate story. What should I do? Should I postpone the idea and just work on the first one, should I focus all my time on the idea or work on them both at the same time? I am hoping that other writers have had this problem and could explain to me the better choice.
I get new ideas while in the middle of projects all the time, especially when a current project is going through a tough stage. It’s so tempting to lay the current project aside and prod at the new shiny idea, but I’d strongly recommend not - I’ve been there many times and have found that it’s a great way of never finishing! And it’s likely that another shiny idea will come along, and so on and so on.
What I do is one of, or a combination of, the following:
-Scribble down the new idea in an “ideas” document where it can sit until I’m done with the current project. If I still like it, I can work on it then.
-Think about what I like about the new idea, and if possible incorporate elements of it into the current project. Of course that depends on the ideas, but it can scratch the itch of wanting to think about new things.
Related to the last point, it may be worth considering whether there are things you want to change up about the current project or your process, to keep the enthusiasm going. There’s always going to be times where the work doesn’t come easily, but maybe there are ways that you can help boost motivation and remind yourself of what you love about the current story.
Seriously though, I try to scribble down the ideas and then put them aside for another day. Doesn’t always work though. I’ve currently got a number of WIP’s I need to finish up and I’ve basically made my life hard. I’m currently trying to prioritise and get each WIP done because they kind of multiplied…
I’d try to stick to one, (two if you must to give yourself a break between one and the other) if you possibly can. (Coming from the do as I say and not as I do camp.)
I used to do that. Then one day I realised I had dozens of unfinished stories scattered about.
I find it’s very easy to get bored with a project after working on it for a while but that’s the time I have to really dig in and force myself to get on with it. It’s starting work for the day that’s hard, once I get going I’m fine… Just that lure of an exciting shiny new project around the corner to overcome…
For new ideas, I keep a notebook by my bed because it’s when I wake up or I’m trying ot get to sleep that most of them come to me. If I can fit that idea into my current project I’ll do so otherwise I’ll try to forget about it - once I have it written down of course.
pretty much happen to me all the time lol and following that one moment when you think ‘Ohhh that would be more fun ! and I can always come back finish this one !’ …it never happen lol
You just end up with 2 unfinished stories . Its like the zoomies for dog , brust of energy that need to come out fast but doesnt last long lol .
I don’t write down ideas , so…that kinda doesn’t help .
But…I learned over the yea , ‘brain if you can’t give me more then how it start…forget it! I’m not stopping and writing that one !’’
Nowday I need the beginning , middle and ending…before I write anything .
Thanks for those! I feel like this is one of those decisions where you know you shouldn’t and you are probably going to regret it later but you’re going to do it anyway. I will try and restrain myself.
Write it down for later. I have a folder of many potential stories on my phone. I write the premise, my thoughts, and a little snippet then tuck it away for later. Trust me, with my dreams I have a LOT of ideas, and that’s where I put them.
Don’t get distracted.
You must be better than the magpies, or else you will become one.
I agree with everything said before, don’t do it! (for a while I had 3 different WIPs, fortunately I managed to discipline myself and finish WIP #3 (Tokyo Wizard), then managed to finish #2 (Highway Wars)… then somewhere along the point got distracted and worked on #4 (Birth of a Hero)… will I ever finish #1? I have to constantly fight myself not to start new WIPs… then I realised all authors have exactly the same problem, and that finishing things is a question of mental discipline and not giving up to temptation!)
So, I actually have a lot of multiple ideas in my mind, both small and big:
- Write a standard action-adventure story
- An elvish world with purple earth and space-colony-like domes
- A story about armed dragons and F-15 (and other fighter jets) dogfighting in the sky
- A forbidden love between a vampire and a sister/nun
- Some crazy psychedelic trip after inhaling sulfur while being lost inside a cave
- Life of a tofu-delivery man
Pretty wild, huh?
And what did I do with them?
Combine them into a single universe!
Life of a tofu delivery man gimme dat.
I am both curious and terrified.
Tell me more.
The keyword is “time and space,” my friend
(That, and including the genre fantasy, of course)
There’re at least 2 eras/ages before the current timeline in my story, and every new ages, something happened that made the current technology reversed and “restarted” severely. However, the old ones built this massive gate/portal thingy…
You see where I’m going from here?
“You’re late! Where’ve you been last time?!”
“I joined Mr. Archibald’s expedition into a…”
“Baah, don’t fucking care. You have 100 packages today, and no bonus for you! Deliver them, or I’ll choke you with the tofu!”
So, I mostly agree with everyone who’s saying that working on multiple projects at a time is a bad idea. However, I also think that if you have a lot of experience, it can be a viable option.
I’ve written 4 HGs, so now I feel more than comfortable working on The Enchanter’s Misery, Mass Mother Murderer, and Winter of the Bovine at the same time. It allows me to bounce back and forth if I’m feeling stuck on one or the other, and it’s also nice to get some variety in because they’re polar opposite genres. Admittedly, this means that they’ll take longer to get finished, but this also means that they could be published a lot closer to one another, which means an explosion of cash all ot once.
Yes, I guess that having two WIPs means you can bounce back and forth between them, depending on interest. However, as you say, this is probably better done once you have experience with several games (as you then have the drive to finish them… otherwise there is the risk of them joining the “desert of dead WIPs”? How was it that Erick used to call it?
At work, you go on about your day, flow with the motions, do what you’re paid to do and some more if you’re a good employee. I sure am not, and while I stand behind that bar counter, I tend to fall into a little dream world of unrelated words and stories playing out all around me.
Not now, of course, now I just taking up space while the world falls apart around me. Huh, that could make a great dystopian game. Mental note.
There’s a regular sitting by the window. I know a lot about him, he’s a nice guy, but I don’t really know him. Drunken rambles are exaggerated at best. How would I get to know him - if the situation arises, how can I play out a conversation like that? Mental note taken. Hu-man in-ter-act-ion. Somewhat a weak skill for me, and no one wants to be treated to the “service industry voice”.
So I listen to another table, talking about their day. Fender bender, drama, how will that affect them? How long will they hang onto that anxiety a mechanic’s bill will give them? It’s individual, of course, because I would freak out completely. But they’re not me, and have a whole different thought process. How can I properly convey different personalities without them melding into something I would say or do? Accidental self-inserts are my bane, I admit.
I drive past a garrison every day I go home. I see training, I’ve been a military man myself. Would that interest people? But usually we write about a broad system, or what’s used in the great U.S of A. I have no clue how to write about the army over there, Finland doesn’t even have authorization for submarines for god’s sake.
Dystopian miliary? Where would it be set? A thousand years from now, another reality? The drive home is a daze, the entire day is filled with mental notes, half already forgotten only to come back to me just before falling asleep.
It’s a long post for sure, but for my first one I wanted to make something bigger, and this is it; at 2am while I dread the workday tomorrow since I know slow days bring daydreaming, and that’s still a blessing and a curse. I’m an imaginative person, everything around me I can spin into a story. Would’ve made a great bard back in the day, but now I’m stuck with either a blank Word page, or handwritten notes connected by a red line that doesn’t lead anywhere.
I look at topics here, at various WIP games, and I’m awestruck. Consistent ideas that make sense, that make me anticipate a finished game years before they’re even out. You who have a set story in mind, and go for it. How do they do that, I wonder, while casually trying to hide endless scripts that I’ve abandoned over the years, either too extravagant or bland in my own eyes.
How do they keep the motivation? Mine comes in bursts, a surprise visit maybe once or twice a month, and it’s mountains of notes all over again. Then it’s mellow. It’s slow and tedious and words don’t make sense, and I burn down the world’s I’ve created.
How do you stay on track? How do you keep yourself content with the story you’re writing without being pulled into a rabbit hole of endless ideas and unrelated aesthetics that might fit the world if you really, really squint at it?
Truly, I’m like a defective sponge that only sucks up ideas, and can’t for the life of me release them, on paper or otherwise.
Oh. TL;DR. How do you keep your ideas from blending together? How do you keep on track what you want in a story? How are you so awesome? Notepads don’t work, Pinterest boards are cluttered, why is there a normal horse in my sci-fi dystopian wasteland. Am I even in the right category? Sweet anxiety how you return to me.
Also, hi! Should’ve started with that, I bet. Rydinger, 23, bartender by day (and night, I guess), wannabe writer at any given time I’m not pouring shots or pulling my cats off the curtains. English isn’t my native tongue so skim over the worst of faulty grammar or jumbled sentence structures. Swedish brain sometimes does doof.