Author Problems: Too Many Ideas to Write

Authors spend a lot of time feeding themselves with whatever triggers them to be inspired, in a quest to get an idea for their next book. It’s a constant effort of reading, watching things, finding inspiring places, making sure all your quirks are met, and so on. When all this effort bears fruit, the creative juices flow and we write with ease, thousands upon thousands of words every day. However, it just so happens that authors may deal with having too many ideas to write. When you are bombarded with so many story ideas that all sound amazing, you might get stuck on deciding which to write first. Even if you get started, your brain might be scattered between all the competing stories you’ve thought up.

When this happens, how do you deal with it? Read on to find out how I deal with it. And before you ask, for me, it’s a constant struggle. I’ve never suffered from a lack of ideas, and even when I was trapped in my writing slump of six months, having no ideas was never the problem. More like having too many.

How to Deal with the Too Many Ideas to Write Syndrome

Wait, it’s a syndrome? Yes, apparently this is how some people refer to it – the too many ideas syndrome. It’s not a medical issue, not one that can be treated by an M.D. And from what I’ve seen, most tips focus on how to choose a story from all the competing ones, and how to stick to writing it. As if this is something that only happens occasionally. For me, and I suspect a lot of other people, it’s a constant issue. I always get new ideas faster than I can draft them.

Writing Idea

This list of tips to handle having too many ideas to write is what I’ve come up with after a lot of trial and error. It works for me, and has been working for a few months (about six). I’ve adjusted it along the way and it’s still a work in progress, so there’s always room for improvement.

Write Your Ideas Down

The first thing I do when an idea starts to take shape (this means I’ve been mulling over it in my head for a while), is to write down a super short summary of this future story. Sometimes it’s one sentence. Other times it’s a short description of a main character and their conflict. If I feel it needs a longer outline, I do that, but it’s generally a paragraph or two. Writing down the idea helps me in two ways: first, I commit to it by writing it down and saving it for later, so it feels more like planning and scheduling than distracting myself with competing ideas. Second, I clear my mind and spend less time thinking about it, allowing myself to focus on what I am working right now.

Make a Drafting Schedule

If you have a lot of story ideas, planning when to draft each of them helps. If you know when you’ll get to that other idea, then you won’t stress about it. It will make it easier on you to take them one at a time. If you truly have too many ideas to write, then you’ll need to make a six months or a yearly plan to accommodate them all. I did this for 2017 and revised it this week, which means I have drafting plans until the end of February, 2018.

Link Your Drafting Schedule with Other Writing Plans

This one is really important for me – once I have my drafting schedule in place, I start working on my release schedule, submission plans, and marketing plan. This way there is a deadline for each drafting goal. I have to finish story x so it can go to my editor, and then be ready on time for its release. It helps me stay on task and makes me less open to altering my drafting plans too much.

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Always Go in Order of How Inspiring an Idea Is

When planning your writing for the month or quarter or year, start with the story that feels most inspiring right now, the one you just can’t wait to type. Then schedule the rest based on how excited you feel about them. As you go through the schedule and you get closer to stories you’ve scheduled for later, there will be some build up and you’ll want to get to them faster.

To make sure everything works well together, try to be realistic about your plans. It’s okay to challenge yourself with ambitious plans for your writing, but setting writing goals that are clearly impossible will not help. You’ll just set yourself up for failure, and that’s never a good strategy.

Remember to Be Flexible

Like I said earlier, I did adjust and alter my drafting plans this week (month five of my original plan). I slotted in a month where I didn’t publish anything new, giving myself more time to draft and a well deserved break. I also switched between two books in a series. I have a Famous on the Internet book planned for a late summer release. I wanted to draft what I’ve come to think of as book two (featuring a musician who’s a YouTube celebrity), but book three, which tells the story of a travel blogger, was more appealing to me. After struggling with drafting for a couple of days, and what I now consider a well-timed mega-cold that kept me from writing, I just switched stories and my flow was back.

The trick here is to know when you need to rethink your plans and avoid getting sidetracked by revising your schedule too often. Don’t forget to also adjust your publishing and marketing plans if you need to!

How Do You Deal with Having Too Many Ideas to Write?

As I said before, I’ve been refining this battle plan for the past half a year. I do realize I am not the only one dealing with this, and I am sure you already have your own tips on how to limit the slump too many ideas can sentence you to. I’d love to hear what you’ve tried and what has worked in the comments!

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A pleasure to meet you! I’m Alina Popescu, an author, traveler, and hopeless coffee addict. I write urban fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and sometimes even contemporary stories. A significant number of my books are LGBTQ fiction and romance.

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