What To Do When You Have Too Many Ideas And Too Little Time

I love starting projects. But, just about the time I have a decent start on something another idea tries to elbow itself to the forefront. Books and stories take time to write so this can make it hard to focus. This is a wonderful and troublesome side effect of writing consistently.

Do you have too many story ideas and too little time?

Photo Credit: pelcinary via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: pelcinary via Compfight cc

When I want to give in to the next project there is only one thing I can do.

Write down the idea in a commonplace book.

I had been doing this for a while but I first heard the commonplace book term from Todd Henry founder of Accidental Creative.

It’s a place we record everything related to our projects. This serves two purposes.

One, it helps us focus on the task at hand and settles the pestering of the other idea. And two, it creates a vetting process.

When I write an idea down and keep working on my current story, the idea has time to incubate. If I’m not passionate about it when I finish my current work, I don’t do it. If I still like the idea three months later, I might try it, if my schedule permits.

I use a journal now and Google Docs, but I just downloaded the Evernote app.

How about you? Do you have a common place book? If not, how do you stay focused on the task at hand and keep track of the ideas that keep coming?

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My Writing Update

I’m putting the finishing touches on my Jot Presentation and the organization that surrounds the conference. Not a lot of other writing time. Join me for this free conference in Three Rivers, MI on September 12th. If you have not signed up, please do so HERE. The sign up is for seats, not a charge. Again, the conference is absolutely free.

Next up is rounding out my Breathe Conference presentation on Worldbuilding. My books will have to wait, but I’ll submit a few short stories this week.

Photo Credit: mbshane via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: mbshane via Compfight cc

BLOGS FROM THIS WEEK

With any project or career we get to the point that we ask ourselves Should You Throw In The Towel Or Try Harder? check out this blog if you are struggling with this question.

Blogging can suck up our time. In the blog Can’t Find The Time To Blog? Create A Blog Checklist I discuss how I have shaved twenty minutes off my blogging time.

On the journey to our writing we can get tired. This post discusses what to do when we feel exhausted and need to rest Do You Ever Get Writer’s Burnout?

We all want more of something. More of life, from our spouse, from our bodies, from our careers and our books. In Laziness and Fear The Two Roadblocks To Our Dream I offer up ways to overcome and succeed in these areas.

Our blogs can invade our lives like vines. They can grow into dinner time, steal the portion of our day we use for our books, and become something we loath not love. In Creating Boundaries For Our Blogs I show you how to reign in this invasive platform.

What Music Gets You Writing talks about the music that helps you paint your scenes or gets you in the mood to write. Please share the steaming service you use or music you enjoy while composing your novel in the comments section on this post.

Write well this week. Take advantage of any spare scrap if time!

What Music Gets You Writing?

When I’m stuck with a project and short on time, I like to jump start my stagnation with a little music. Music is a powerful tool. It can motivate, sooth, and evoke emotions in an instant.

But rhythm and beats don’t just help the writer it can help in other instances as well. Music therapy has been proven to help will all sorts of disabilities and can improve mental health.

But what sort of music gets you going?

Photo Credit: Taylor Burnes via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Taylor Burnes via Compfight cc

I used to enjoy Grooveshark but now I use Pandora or an album I purchased. Some of my favorite artists are Frightened Rabbit, Of Monsters and Men, Hey Marseilles, Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind Album, and Florence + the Machine.

A good song can also set the mood for a scene. Need something mysterious with piano and strings as characters are trying to solve a puzzle? I use the soundtrack from A Lady in the Water.

A noble charge across a plain in your fantasy novel? The soundtrack for The Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy does the trick.

If a character dies or is parted, I listen to the magnificent string piece by Alan Silvestri from the movie Cast Away.

This is the part where Chuck and Wilson the Volleyball are separated. It may seem silly but the inanimate object has been his only friend for years. I did this and I hear the music every time I read the piece I wrote while listening to it. I cannot help but tear up.

As you work on your piece, do you listen to music? Do you listen to a streaming service? If so, what are some of your favorite streaming sites, bands, or inspirational pieces?

Creating Boundaries For Our Blogs

I’m a novelist, but I’m attempting to reboot my blog. Because of this I occasionally skip my daily word count for my book to ensure I have a post. This has become my writing regiment – blog and then book.

But then I second guess myself. Should I build a platform for my book or write a book for my platform? This is the modern writers version of the cart before the horse.

It depends what you are trying to do. Are you trying to be a blogger or a novelist or both? If a writer, then make that the priority and create boundaries for your blog. If a blogger, focus on that and ditch the book.

Photo Credit: Arenamontanus via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Arenamontanus via Compfight cc

This question surfaced in my mind after I listened to a Simple Life Habits Podcast by Jonathan Milligan.

My desire is to be a published novelist. Mr. Milligan, in his simple brilliance, says to do the creative stuff first if this is the case. Work on your dream, book, piece of art, first. Then do the other things that surround it. Why? Because it builds momentum yes, but because this is why you are blogging in the first place. This is where joy comes from.

If you want to be a writer of books be wise with the limited time you have. Write what you desire to write, not what others say to write or what you feel obligated to write.

Work on the project you love, then sprinkle in the rest.

Laziness and Fear – The Two Roadblocks To Our Dream

Whenever I have hope for humanity, I only need to peruse the comment section on any article on the internet to dash them. People are merciless, unforgiving, caustic, seeking out arguments and unbelievably petty. This is why I believe writing, or any art, is a terrifying thing.

We open up shop and, like a gallery, people can now judge what we do. Not only that, we tie our self worth to it. And people do surgery on with a chainsaw.

Little Dude Is Terrified Photo Credit: ⊰◖iFhe◗⊱ via Compfight cc
Little Dude Is Terrified
Photo Credit: ⊰◖iFhe◗⊱ via Compfight cc

This is part of the reason I don’t like submitting. I don’t even like posting blogs, but I make myself. I know it’s all part of the publishing game, but that does not make clicking the submit button any easier. But this fear must be put away if we are to rise to the place of publication.

Fear can cause us to chase comfort. Fear can cause us to choose safety. But it can also make us miss out on something that might breathe life into us and set our souls aflame.

But fear is not the only problem we artists and entrepreneurs face. Laziness is his close ally.

This is the still small voice that says we need to enjoy life now. We need to kick back and relax, it’s been a tough day at work or home. We deserve this. We need it. Relax, have a snack and a margarita.

But this one day of enjoyment can lead to a week. Have you ever sat on your couch staring at a blank screen realizing you just binge watched and entire TV series?

Laziness, like fear, tells us to chill and do something comfortable. Seek easy it says. Seek what satisfies now, not what endures.

But art is not comfortable or easy. It’s bold and difficult. It’s stretching, moving, reaching, taking the stage and standing in the spotlight.

What will you choose today?

Will you reach?

Or will you seek comfort?

Do You Ever Get Writer’s Burnout?

We all get to that point. Where we are too exhausted to give any more to the world. We need sleep. Our eyes are blurry, our energy sapped, and our attitude irritable at best.

When I enter this territory, my mind will pose a question sooner or later.

Do I try harder? Or do I wait until tomorrow?

Photo Credit: miguelavg via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: miguelavg via Compfight cc

I have answered yes to tomorrow more often than I’d care to admit. But last night, I heard what that voice was really saying. You’re tired, do it another day. Even if it doesn’t get done tomorrow, it’s not a huge deal. You’re burnt out.

I have been staying up late and getting up early too much over the past two weeks. A lot of it was because of fun tasks I enjoy. I’d written a blog or two almost every day, posted on another blog twice a week, wrote on my novel, prepped for a talk at a conference in two weeks, and sent in a proposal for another talk in October.

Usually during a blitz of activity like this, I become a super hero and write like a maniac. Then, I become the super bum, and have little taste for it. How do you find that balance?

For me, the first thing to understand is that I cannot sustain this output. Something’s gotta give. Either my sky high expectations or projects. Often it was the expectations and I’d try to cram in everything. At times, I would stay up until midnight and then try to wake at five or six to get projects done before the kids woke up.

I don’t know about you but I’m not a robot. I need rest just like everyone else and I needed to figure out a way to get it.

I know that getting proper rest would make me more alert at work, more patient with my family, less irritable, and prone to working with a better attitude. I sat back and realized I cannot have both manic activity and sleeplessness.

Thus, I’ve recommitted to sleep and care of myself just like I did with my blog. I will wake early only if I go to bed on time. If I feel the push to finish something in the evening, I will refrain from rising early.

This is the best answer I have to burnout. Do you have any suggestions?

Can’t Find The Time To Blog? Create A Blog Checklist

Time. There is never enough of it. As sobering as that is to consider, you and I still have the same amount as Michelangelo, Charles Dickens, Homer, etc., an elusive twenty-four hour block.

And if we want to publisher to consider our work, we need to have a platform AND still have time for our books.

Photo Credit: Auntie P via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Auntie P via Compfight cc

I sacrificed my blog this summer to work on my book because I could not find the time. But after revamping my writing goals, I committed to my platform once again. To do this, I created a game plan and tried to write faster by using a blog checklist.

What is a blog checklist? It’s the essential ingredients to most of my blogs.

  1. Strong opening paragraph, just above the posts image. This may sound prideful but it’s the cornerstone for the rest of the post. This is the hook, the question, or the issue.
  2. Solid image. Not something cheesy or overused or confusing. Just a good photo (I use free images from compfight with proper accreditation) pertaining to this post.
  3. Write in 2-4 sentence paragraphs. Keeps it clean, tight, and readable.
  4. Include personal or relative story. I’m a story teller, so it’s only natural I tell something about myself, family, or closely related story.
  5. Include Interlinks, I try to include at least one, this will help readers connect your ideas and get more familiar with your content.
  6. Closing statement, challenge, or call to action.

I put together this post in about forty minutes. A year ago it would have taken about an hour. This comes with practice and making sure you have a system, however, no system fits all.

If you have tips or tricks to write faster content please share below. I hope you find this posts helpful and encouraging. That, I hope, is always my intent.

How do you win the blog versus book battle?

Should You Throw In The Towel Or Try Harder?

Earlier this year I decided my blog wasn’t working. I didn’t like the look of it. I didn’t like the plug ins, my photo, the header, or even the font. It was supposed to be an outlet to help and connect with other struggling writers.

But it was terrible. I was done.

I knew that I wasn’t a blogger.

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Then I had a realization that cut me deeply. It wasn’t that my blog wasn’t working but that I was giving it as much thought and attention as I give my hair each morning. This was not the time to throw in the towel, it was time to go to blogging school and get back to work, if I so desired.

Back in March I stopped blogging and wrote on my new novel. When I needed a break I’d read books about blogging. I watched videos of the bloggers I admired and examined their websites. I looked to the pros and tried to take what they did each week and each month into consideration.

After much deliberation I knew it was time to pick a date. I was tired of not investing in my platform and the bloggers I enjoy connecting with. I set a date of August, and started on a rebuild.

The important thing I learned from this is that a casual attempt at anything will get the result it deserves. And even if I never get to where I want to be with a project, I want to be satisfied with my effort before I close the book.

Are you unsatisfied with the results you are getting with your blog, book, or career? If so, is it time to close the book and be satisfied with your efforts, or have you not really tried at all and it’s time to dig deeper?

My Writing Update

I always think I am going to accomplish more than I do. Ever have that problem? I have a grand plan, a sure fire way to get more writing done, then I forget about something else that steals time.

Though I traveled for work from Monday through Thursday evening this past week, I got little writing done on my novel, however, something exciting happened. I was asked to lead a workshop about Worldbuilding at a writing conference in October.

I’ll be prepping for the Breathe Conference, the Jot Conference talk about blogging in a few weeks, and trying to get a few short stories out in between. We’ll see.

Below is a recap of my weekly blogs. Please review if you missed anything!

Photo Credit: :ray via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: :ray via Compfight cc

On Monday, it was crazy talk. I wrote about how we critique ourselves into pretzels even before we try our hand at writing, launching a business, or any creative pursuit.

On Tuesday it was a question about our blogging platforms. Do you blog for stats or do you blog with a message?

Wednesday it was family time. I wrote about how my daughter wrote with marker on my desk and how it made me tear up. Wonder why? Read it!

Motivation is a hard thing to get once it’s gone. On Thursday it was all about sequestering one bad day so it does not become a bad week, month, or year.

We all have unexpected things that come up that create the fight or flight emotions to rise up within us. I talk about 5 things I learned from an unexpected challenge in Friday’s post.

Ever day dream about doing something but never actually do it? In this post I challenge you to stop thinking about it and start acting on it.

Write well this week.

Let me know what you think of this past week’s post below.

Don’t Daydream. Act!

Before I started writing I would often day dream about it. I would think of a cabin overlooking a pine forest where the gentle morning fog settled on the lowlands. I would finish it, take a long sip of coffee and lean back satisfied knowing I could now exit the land of the cubicle.

What I built felt comfortable. It felt doable. I would get there in some vague part of my future.

Photo Credit: zenobia_joy via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: zenobia_joy via Compfight cc

Have you ever day dreamed about the life you wanted? We all have. It’s fun and it’s easy. And therein lies our problem. We convince ourselves of the lie of someday and we move on with our lives.

If you’ve been writing with any longevity you know being an author is one of the most challenging things you can do for a living. Not only do few make a living from it but you aren’t just battling competition and for your chunk of cheese, you are fighting with yourself, disbelieving that you could actually put something together that people would care to read.

This is why I’ve stopped day dreaming about what I want. Instead, when I start to creep in that direction I make myself think of a one practical thing I can do to move toward it.

Write a blog, write 1000 words on my book, contact someone I know at the local paper to see if I can contribute an article, or contribute a guest post on a blog.

Action. This is the key to avoid simply filing away those comfortable thoughts about where we are called to be in life.