Thursday, March 4, 2010

Temptation & Commitment

Who doesn't have more than one story idea bouncing around in their head? Heck, we wouldn't have to worry about Sexy New Ideas (SNIs) lurking around the corner if we didn't. But what do we do with these luring ideas? Surely you don't want to forget such a tempting new prospect. You could be like me and break up with your current WIP, but trust me, another SNI will be waiting for you and no one wants to be an idea whore.

So what do you do? Here's what I do. I write down every single idea, character and scene the SNI reveals to me and store it on a folder on my laptop. Sure, it'll keep flirting with me from time to time, but as long as I get it's number and take it out on a date every now and then, it'll stick around.

As for your current WIP, you need to stay focused in order to stay committed. Luckily for us, Writer's Digest wrote a recent article on this very topic, "How to Organize Your Story Ideas." Here's a roundup of the article:

1. Establish a Calm Centered Mind: "Make your workspace your sanctuary. Keep office hours. Close the door if you can. If you can’t, put on earphones and listen to music. Writing is a meditation on life. You need to feel alone in the world so that you can be objective about it."

2. Study Your Breed: "Every book, just like every breed, brings with it a certain set of natural expectations. Historical romance must address history. Mysteries must have some level of, well, mystery. Literary books are usually not plot-focused.

Understanding the “breed” of your book is the first step in bringing your novel to the page. Once you create a clearly defined set of expectations, you can train yourself to stay within them—and soon you’ll be able to sit, roll over and fetch with the best of them."

3. Train Your Focus: "Once you have your framework in place, you’ll need to be ruthless. Everything in a story must work to tell the tale... You’ll probably start out pursuing more ideas than you have room for in your story, but when it comes time to write, it’s important to remember that you can’t try to stuff things in just because you like them."

4. Walk Your Inner Dog: "Don’t worry about failing. Be fearless about taming your best ideas, and about tossing out those that don’t fit your model. Choose paths that illuminate your own unique take on the world. Once you’re in the habit of walking your inner dog, you never know where it might lead you."

I'm giving these ideas a go for my current WIP to see how they play out. Like Mr. Miyagi said, "Focus Daniel son." I'll take the master's advice, and see how far it gets me. Don't worry WIP, I won't leave you!


Stephanie said...

That's exactly what I do!!! I have a Project Idea folder and even the tiniest thought gets a file. Then when I need to start something new...I flip through my ideas and see which one inspires me! And luckily, I;m pretty good at staying focused on one project at a time....yes the others beckon me occasionally...but I stay strong! Unless my current project is just not working for me.

Bane of Anubis said...

Luckily, when I'm in the midst of one project, that's all I can think about (well, except for side-track shorts, but those don't bother me).

Shannon O'Donnell said...

"Walk your inner dog" I love it!

Great ideas, Steph - thanks for passing them along. :-)

Steph Damore said...

Stephanie--I wouldn't be able to leave an idea if I didn't write it down somewhere. Project folders are the best! I get a kick out of reading past ideas, too. Half the time I don't even remember what they're about until I start reading. Weird, I know.

Steph Damore said...

Bane, you're lucky. I get sidetracked all the time. It's like ADHD for writers.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Sometimes I wish I could think up multiple story concepts, but I stick with one at a time. Then I focus my energies just on the plot of that one book. It's all I can handle!

Steph Damore said...

Stephanie, consider yourself blessed. I could use more focus.