Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Or as we like to call them -- Shiny New Idea.

My muse, as you know, finally introduced himself to me about a month ago. He gave me a Shiny New Idea right before I started querying. I could have killed him.

But, I went with the flow and wrote about 6k to a story I started last year but knew I had to rewrite. So I did. And it was good.

So, I was cruising along, writing some stuff, getting the house in order for next week, not really pushing myself the way I usually do (haven't felt all that swell the last few days).

And then, the little bounder smacked me upside the head again, with not one, not two, but three shiny new ideas. I've been scribbling notes furiously. I have notebooks and pens scattered all over the house, in the car, in the bathroom. I can't get back to the original idea because the new ones have taken over my brain.

I have people in my head all the time as it is. Why do I feel like Patty Duke in that movie?

What do you do when you get more than one idea at a time? Do you write them down? Do you pick the best one and flesh that out? Do you take notes for the others? What's your strategy when the muse smacks you with multiples?


Christine Danek said...

I just went through this a couple of weeks ago. I had about five ideas flood my head. I write down notes for each one. I'm still trying to finish my revisions on my first one so I'm trying to keep the other screaming voices quiet. I had to laugh when you said,"I have people in my head all the time as it is." I can relate. :)
I hope you feel better. I think a bug is going around. I haven't felt so hot either.
Have a great day!

Ted Cross said...

I don't write things down at first. I let ideas just simmer in my mind. The most insistent ones will never leave, and those will be the ones that form themselves into a story eventually.

Christine said...

I write them down. I'm in the same boat as you in that I've got a series idea, a single story idea and two more books growing out of the current WIP. I plop a lot of stuff in Scrivener, but I also have notebooks going where I put ideas and thoughts.

Right now I'm lollygaggling between all the ideas and not committing to one because I am in a post-get-the-full out state of mind. Can't focus so I'm bouncing between three different stories.

I'm just rolling with it.

Roxy said...

I write them down and think about them a lot. My kids don't appreciate this because I run these S.N.I's by them, and they respond by saying, "Um, Mom, can I just have my pancake?" Lol. I feel like Patty Duke, too.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Yeah, I'm not alone.

I don't jot. I let them muddle around in the skull...particularly when I walk the pups. That is my inspiration time. (Unfortunately...also when I'm trying to fall asleep.)

Hope you get feeling better.


Linda G. said...

If a SNI comes at an awkward time, I might write it down. But maybe not. I figure if the idea is truly compelling, it will stick around in my head until I can give it the proper attention.

Anne Gallagher said...

You guys are totally making my day!

Christine -- It's more like jet lag than a bug. The time change I think. I still can't get used to the sun setting at 5.

Ted -- That's why I do yardwork. But these SNI's were just so shiny, I had to do something with them.

Christine -- Between all the stories you've got going on (and I do too) I'll bet we could come up with 50k at the end of Nov. I wonder if we could still get a badge if it's not the same work in progress.

Roxy -- With the face. Monster Baby gives me the face.

Mac -- I finally realized I needed to keep a pad and pen by the bed. I hate 3:00.

Linda -- I thought these were compelling enough. Something that doesn't come along every day.

Matthew MacNish said...

This is weird for me. I've only ever had one idea that was worthy of a novel, but other ones, that end up as short stories, I just pretty much write them right away. It's the only way I can do it.

Sarah Ahiers said...

i write them down. My SNIs need to rest in my head for wuite a bit before i'm allowed to do any work on them. Otherwise they go nowhere

Natascha said...

I'm with you there. Too many ideas. Whenever I get a new one, I make an outline with very descriptive notes. That way, when I do have time to start on something new, I remember exactly what the new idea was.

Saumya said...

So cool!! I wish I had too many ideas. Sometimes I'm so burnt out for one that it seems to block the road to others :( Whenever I do get lucky, I carry a notebook with me and divide portions of it to the different ideas. Then, whenever inspiration strikes, I file it with the appropriate idea. YAY!

Anne Gallagher said...

Matt -- I was thinking about short stories the other day too.

Sarah -- I like having written down so much so that when I look at it again next year (probably) I'll remember what I wanted to do with it.

Natascha -- Yeah, that's what I did. Outline with notes, some dialogue.

Saumya -- Right now I have four different colored pads with each of the separate stories in them. Makes it easier to find.

Melody said...

Um, I just go completley crazy.
Kidding. Kind of. I have several lines of defense. They don't always work, so...good luck.

1) My first line of defense against SNIs is to write them down in my "Great Expectations file." It's usually one long, run-on sentence that should take up two paragraphs but doesn't because I'm in too much of a hurry to push the hard return key. There, I write all the information that's spinning around in my had (after titling it with the genre) - age, plot, a quick summary of any specific scenes that I have to get out. Then I put the date and what inspired them (usually a book or movie) and close the file. Usually after typing it all out, I feel safe that they won't be forgotten and I personally can forget about them.

2) If the above doesn't work... Since it's usually only one scene that's troubling/attached itself to me, I write it out. Just that scene. No backstory, not goals. Just the scene. And this often works.

3) Go crazy and decide to write it from the beginning.

You have given me an idea for today's blog post. Yes, you have. Thank you, Anne. :)

Tara said...

Wait, is your muse as hot as mine? Do you have pictures?


I jot down a rough outline and some dialogue (if it was a dream). Then I get back to it when I can. I can only concentrate on writing one story at a time. Give me a break, I'm blonde.

Tracy said...

I've found that I seem to get the most ideas right when I'm at about the 3/4 mark on whatever my current WIP is. I tell my SNI that it has approximately 2-5 pages of synopsis like writing to get itself down onto paper to be revisted after WIP is done, otherwise I'm calling the police.

Anne R. Allen said...

This is such a great post--and a great discussion. I'm so glad to know other writers go through this. It's like a fig tree I used to have, where all the figs got ripe on the same day and I went crazy trying to pick them all before the birds got them.

My ideas come in flocks. Which one to choose? I jot down notes, but they never seem to do the idea justice.

The one thing I learned NOT to do is tell anybody. I had a great idea for my next book when I was in the middle of my first and I told a friend. Then every time I saw her, she kept trying to get me to drop book #1 and write #2. I ended up trying to do both at once and ended up with two crap books. Never again.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess there's somethiing wrong with my thinking - I only have one idea at a time.

Shannon Messenger said...

I have a notebook where I keep all my ideas. And usually I don't pick the story I work on. The characters pick me. I know that sounds crazy (to non writers at least) but some characters are just so strong and clear in my head that I can't ignore them--no matter how much I might want to. The upside to that it they help me fight back the other new ideas. But they also kinda run my life. Okay, yeah, I really am a crazy writer. :D

Anne Gallagher said...

Melody -- Glad I could help.

Tara -- I think my muse is pretty hot but I don't have pictures, yet.

Tracy -- I know, huh, write it all down.

Anne -- Oh I know, never tell anyone! The last time I told someone, I got bored with the idea and threw it away. And it was a good one too.

Alex -- That just proves you're not crazy.

Shannon -- My characters talk to me all the time. I hate them. Never a moments peace.

Lydia Kang said...

I email myself the idea so I don't lose it right away. I have a whole folder of emails like that!

Anne Gallagher said...

Lydia -- What a great idea!!!

February Grace said...

I have to write an idea down right away or I lose it and it never comes back.

Right now I'm struggling because I want to finish the first draft I started for NaNo and I'm so tired, I can't fully engage my brain and so, no writing. Then, to make it worse, a secondary idea popped up a few days ago that my brain refuses to let go of. I've thought about starting over from scratch with second idea knowing if I could stay awake long enough that I could easily pound out 50k in the next thirteen or so days but the worry is- what would it do to my eyes...I'm not a writer who can dictate or cover the screen while they work, I have to see the words.

I don't know which idea will win out, or if they'll cancel each other out for the time being but I do know the clock is ticking.


Anonymous said...

How awesome that you had so many ideas! I got them a lot when I was younger!! So I have dozens sitting in my files. Just have to pull them out some day, I guess.

Shannon said...

I have paper all over the house. Luckily, I only had a conflicting story interfere once - usually I can keep the ideas at bay. My main story characters do most of the talking.

Great topic. =) So nice to know I'm not the only one who has conversations with my characters/hears voices.

If you get a chance, please try to stop by my blog tomorrow - my first Anonymous Critique is going up for feedback. I'd love your input!

Unknown said...

Good luck with your early organising.
When the muse comes by in multiples I make at least brief notes. However procrastination comes in this shape too. Select one and go with it and don't let the others mess up your thinking :)

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I never get more than one idea at a time. I rarely get one, haha. Can I kidnap your muse?

The Words Crafter said...

I file them away in my mind. If they're any good, I'll come back to them. The story I'm doing for nano was one of them. The idea would flutter through my brain once in a while, always the same, and then go back to its shelf. When I pulled it out for nano, it grew and morphed and I'm totally in love with the characters.