Monday 3 September 2018
Ideas Everywhere! - The Creative Process
One thing that all writers will agree with - whether they be a planner, pantser or a hybrid - is that the ideas don't stop. They pop up at the weirdest times and you find yourself going down the plot bunny hole and seeing all the weird and wonderful twists and turns it might take should you decide to capture it and keep it for yourself. The ideas don't stop. No matter if you're in the middle of one, or two, or more, works in progress, they just keep hitting you and there's no way to get rid of them. But that's not a bad thing, because with the ideas comes new stories, new plots, new twists and turns that allow you to go a little crazy with your characters.
But what happens when you capture a bunny and don't know if you have the time and patience to get on with it? Do you set it free? If it completely excites you and pulls you away from your current work, how do restore that passion and how do you stop getting sidetracked? Never fear, for I have five tips on helping you with those ideas and how to keep focused on your current project while still allowing time for the bunnies to roam free.
#1 - THOUGHT DUMP IS YOUR FRIEND
While you may not have time to switch projects, or juggling multiples, you do have time to sit and thought dump the idea out. Whether this means taking a day or two and just getting everything out of your head and onto paper, it can be the best way to quell the urge to sit down, plan and start writing this idea when your other projects need you. Sometimes it can be the case that your new idea will be a better fit for you, but the passion that comes from thinking up something brand new can sometimes be misleading. The best thing to do is get everything out there so that you can see what the good points are, and if any bad points come up.
#2 - REMEMBER YOUR PASSION
Shiny New Idea Syndrome is a plague among writers everywhere. You get started on a project and it's all exciting and new and you're pumped to be writing it. And then along comes a new plot bunny just as you're reaching a point in your project that feels like a lot of hard work. The excitement is still there, but it's not a case of just opening word and writing to your heart's content. It can be, at times, like pulling teeth, and that can make it seem like it's better to work on something new. And while that's a sur way to never really finish anything, it's really tempting at times. The best thing to do when this happens is look back and remember why you started writing the current works. It might be that you're able to see the reason, the thrill in the story again and once you've written down your new idea, you go back to the older one refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges.
#3 - SET UP A REWARD SYSTEM
If you're unable to find the urge to ignore the new idea and you're being tempted away from your current work, sometimes a reward system can work. While I don't advocate for forcing yourself to write something you have no passion for, sometimes it's just about getting over the current rough patch and then the words flow again. For me, I keep a writing log. I know other writers who do stickers for every 500 words, some who set up rewards of shows to watch and so on. On top of that, having a group of writer friends can really help you stay on task.
#4 - SOMETIMES IT'S BETTER TO SWITCH
That said, sometimes it is better to move onto the new idea. It might be that it's more than the initial buzz of starting a new project, sometimes it's a case that your current work doesn't appeal to you, or isn't where you want your focus to be. There's nothing wrong with taking a step back, and sometimes it can be the reason you're able to finish something. I did this with Lynne & Hope when I first wrote it. I had a brand new idea and I was excited about getting to start it. I tried to ignore the new idea but I soon realised that I didn't actually like where Lynne & Hope was at that point. So I put it away and about two years later, I came back, revamped the storyline and boom, the book was finished. It can work sometimes.
And finally, #5 - IDEAS WON'T STOP
It's good to remember, and to remind yourself that just because you're working on one thing doesn't mean that the ideas are going to stop. You're a writer, there will be times when you go weeks without something new, but then there are other times when you won't last a few hours without a brand new plot bouncing into your head. That's completely normal. I sometimes get to the point where I don't have any ideas for a long period and then when I allow myself to branch out, they all hit me at once. Everyone works differently and just because you see other writers with all the ideas doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. The ideas are gonna come, you might just have to wait for them.
So those are my five tips when it comes to new plot bunnies. Do you have any you'd like to share? Put them down in the comments below!
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