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?

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.

Become An Everydayer

I love hockey. Not just watching it on TV, but reading about it on obscure blogs, watching Youtube clips in the offseason, listening to sports talk radio, and rehashing stories with friends at work. It’s a passion and I’m an evangelist.

I don’t love it for the fighting, but the grit. When a player battles through a second degree separated shoulder, a broken foot, and a broken finger simultaneously, all for the logo on their sweater and the city they represent, I wonder, how do they do that? Of course they are paid millions of dollars for this, but wouldn’t you throw in the towel at that point? They’ll make their money whether they play or not.

This grit can be explained in a million ways but for those unfamiliar with this glorious game, one of the best and grammatically incorrect is “An Everydayer”. This is a term I hear all the time from the coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Mike Babcock.

What does it mean? That you show up every day and work hard. Whether you’re a professional banker or a professional toilet cleaner, you work hard in everything you do. Period. It’s a cemented mindset that does not change, but this is not from hard headedness, it’s fueled by passion.

I am a firm believer that everything in your life builds upon everything else. If you display patience at home with a troubled teen, chances are that will strengthen your patience for a work situation. If you work hard at work, you’ll have a better chance at working hard as a parent and so forth.

If you are stuck today in anything – your novel, your job, your website – know that those who succeed show up everyday.

They are Everydayers.

What are you?



Motivational Monday

I was going to start off today with a quote. This quote would set the tone for our week. It was going to be a springboard to great achievement and the key to our lackadaisical effort we give to our books. It might even act as a profound subliminal message and cause you to turn, grab your laptop, and finish it.

Not every day. But every other day?

Unfortunately, the love of writing cannot be turned on like a switch. It’s not something that can hinge on emotion and wait until we feel like it. Why? Because I feel like pizza every night for dinner and that would cause some health problems.

Writing is about showing up everyday. Whether you write well or poorly, it doesn’t matter. What matters is coming to the desk or table or wherever, and doing it again and again and again.

I work best when I have a plan. Not a super detailed one, but one that helps me not get ambushed by a really good TV show and two hours later think, oh no! can I have a do over? Can I go back to where I saved my life last and relive those last few hours like this is some sort of game? I write better and get less distracted and am less cranky when I see that time to work on my passion is coming. Also, it helps prepare my mind.

This week, don’t wait to write until you feel like it. Don’t write because someone else told you to do so. Write because that’s what is in you and that is what you do.



Writing with Passion and Persistence

This is a short piece from YouTube about the late great Ray Bradbury. He talks about his passion for writing, how he wrote a short story a week, and slowly became a published author.

He discusses the turning point in his career – a short story titled The Lake which is based on a true story. At the end of the piece he says it took him ten years to write something beautiful. I realize now, at times, how impatient we are with our inner authors and how passion and persistence pays off.

Rest in peace Mr. Bradbury and thank you.