It happens to all writers, regardless of the genre or type of writing: days and weeks pass until you can come up with a story or article idea that you deem usable, and then about a fourth of the way through another magnificent idea pops into your head! And guess what, this idea always seems preferable to your current piece.
This phenomenon makes sense, since instead of sitting at a desk and trying to rack your brain you have expanded your mind while actually working on your craft. You are actually writing. You subconsciously think about your writing while at work, walking around, working out, or whatever you are doing.
Is it acceptable to stop working on your current writing if you think of a “better” idea in the process? No, there is never an excuse. Even if you are published, best-selling author and write three books at a time it is still going to be more efficient to finish what you are working on. I am a strong advocate of brainstorming, researching and searching for new ideas whenever you are writing but abandoning your previous project for a new one, or claiming you will come back to it or even trying to work on multiple projects can decrease your productivity. There are a few reasons for this decrease of productivity.
- Chances are your idea is not better than the one you are working on.
- Changing gears decreases your efficiency.
- If you return to your original piece the original inspiration and ideas might be lacking.
- It’s hard enough as it is to finish a writing piece, don’t make it more difficult.
Whenever a new idea pops into your head it hopefully is and can be something that will be a great piece, but as writers, being efficient is just as important as actual writing, marketing and experiencing the world around us for inspiration. Therefore, add a procedure to your writing toolbox whenever a new idea comes into your head. My technique may be a little drawn out but I used to be awful, when it came to not finishing my work, because of great new ideas popping into my head. Therefore, this is what I came up with. Feel free to try my techniques and let me know how it goes. If you have other proecedures or techniques for logging story ideas please let us know in the comment section. I also included a downloadable spreadsheet (the same one I use for organizing new ideas).
- Where ever I am, I write the idea down immediately in full detail.
- When I get home to my computer I open workflowy.com and type the new idea under my “New Ideas” tab. (This application is a versatile list that allows you to complete activities. I use it as my checklist. It is exactly what a To-Do list/Task list should be like, no bells and whistles.)
- I then punch the idea into my “Idea Organizer” excel list, so I don’t touch the idea until I have completed my previous project. If you want to try using the list that I use, click here for the download.
- I tell one or two people about the project I am currently working on. This not only allows a little network of people who are willing to read my work and give me feedback once it is done, but it also creates someone who is aware of your current project and will be asking you how it is going. Whenever I write for a magazine, publisher or freelance client it is easy to get my current project completed because there is someone waiting on it. By telling someone about your project, next time you see them they will ask you how it is coming along and may ask to read it. Essentially, I am creating my own little anxious fan base or “publisher” wanting to see your finished work.
See ya next time…