You’re in a relationship. You’ve been together three months. You’re starting to get to know each other, you’ve had quite a few dates – and things are starting to go really well.
And then, BAM.
You meet someone else.
They’re just as attractive as your current partner, but they’re exciting and new. You tell yourself not to think about them, but the more you try not to, the more they take up your brain… until you find yourself thinking about them all the time. Even when you’re with your partner, you’re thinking about the other person.
This is what just happened to me.
I’m about 11,000 words into the book I’m currently writing. My characters are taking shape as their own flawed, human beings and the story is well underway. I’m just getting into the swing of it and BAM.
NEW STORY IDEA.
My brain was like an annoying child, tapping on a glass door to get my attention.
“Look! Look at this shiny new idea! Isn’t it exciting!”
And so for about a week I was stuck in limbo. I was cheating on my book with another book. Instead of thinking about Character A and Character B and how the hell they were going to get themselves out of the mess they’d gotten themselves into, I was thinking up a new character, a new plot – a new book entirely.
But ideas are sticky. And once they’re stuck to you, it’s very hard to shake them off.
So here’s how I’m dealing with it. Any other thoughts are gratefully welcomed.
1. Embrace the new idea
It’s not often you get struck with a fledgling idea like a bolt out of the blue (or at least, it’s not for me.) Your creative side is trying to tell you something – so listen to it.
Play around with the idea for a while.
Try it out on your tongue.
Write some ideas down in your notebook, or on your laptop. Write as many bullet points as you possibly can – try and come up with plots, subplots, character ideas, conflicts, rising actions – the works.
Write until you can’t think of anything more things to write.
2. Now put the idea away
Once you’ve scratched the itch and you know you have your fledgling idea safely tucked away for a rainy day, go back to your book.
Sit back down and re-immerse yourself in the world you stepped out of.
The other idea will still be there when you’re finished.
But if you get yourself into the habit of starting a new story every 10,000 or so words, you’ll have a series of unfinished first chapters, rather than complete books.
Yes, it might feel frustrating – because you don’t want to thrash out an old idea when you have a shiny new one to play with.
But think about it like this.
Do you leave your partner everytime you find someone else attractive?
You just think to yourself, ‘They’re good looking.’ And then you get on with your life.
So do this to the new ideas that flit across your brain like sexy, sexy temptations.
Acknowledge they’re attractive. Write some stuff down. And then go back to being faithful to your work in progress.