1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Active Member

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    Too Much Creativity - is it a bad thing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by J.T. Woody, Feb 5, 2018.

    Have you ever spend a large chunk of your time on a project and then suddenly have writers block for that particular project... but a sudden inspiration for another project?

    What do you do? How do you get refocused?

    I've written over 180 pages for my project, created a world and various characters and have my plot.... THEN I started another story within the same world and am coming up on page 24.... THEN, I've gotten a sudden burst of creativity for yet another story outside of the "world" I created. Its like I cant focus on one thing anymore because I'm worried I'll lose these ideas or they wont be as fresh. And if I keep dwelling on them, it makes it harder to add to my first project!
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    In more than one place, I've heard writers (some of them successfully published) say that at some point in a project, there's always another shiny project trying to pull your attention. And that you have to just shake your head and work on this one, because no matter how shiny the new one looks, another one is going to look just as shiny later, and in the end you won't finish anything.

    Yes, the new inspiration might float away and die. But if you chase them all, you're at risk of losing them all.
     
  3. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    I think it might come down to discipline.

    If you always find yourself jumping projects every X pages then you won't ever finish anything. When you're writing you'll always run into a problem area. You can't run on creativity alone. The best thing to do is to try to work past the blocks, if possible.

    There is, of course, times when it's better to flush a project all together if you can't get forward, but if you're always lettings yourself take the easy way out (start on a new and there for more interesting project) you won't get anywhere.

    I'd suggest you keep writing. Have a file or note book where you write down the ideas that try to catch your attention, but don't just leave the project you're working at!

    That said - some people work with more than one project at ones. I've done that at times. Having one main project and then another smaller one which I can write when I need a break from the main one. But that leads us back to my first sentence - you need some kind of discipline to actually go back to the project you're working at and keep writing it. Even when it's hard and your mind is somewhere else.
     
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  4. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

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    In Twyla Tharp's book about creative process, she said to avoid getting blocked and burned out, it's important to end each day with something left in the tank, before you're out of ideas for that project. That plus focusing on one project would probably help you finish. You're probably burning out on the first project, but your brain still wants to create.
     
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  5. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    Yup. It's discipline. Which isn't the answer anyone wants to hear, but it's the answer. You just have to not start writing something else. Simple, but not always easy.

    Writing is hard work. It's easy to get distracted, to lose steam, to get bored, to have other life events take priority. But if you want to finish something, you have to make yourself finish. How long you let it take is up to what you're willing to accept based on your goals.

    Of course, if you can work on two things at a time, great. Then the advice applies when the third idea pops up.
     
  6. LazyBear

    LazyBear Member Supporter

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    This might not make the best plot, but is seems like you need a place to get those ideas out, and I had the same problem with all my crazy ideas. You can make a story with less restrictions by having many small story arcs in a generic setting, you can always throw in new guest characters and change the shallow aspects to keep the theme. Then you can look back and write the new book when you know which characters and themes you liked.

    An alternative is short stories, but I never really liked ending my stories, because I always end up wanting to continue them once closed.
     
  7. Drinkingcrane

    Drinkingcrane Member

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    You can’t run on inspiration alone. Being inspired about an idea is the funnest part of writing. The only thing inspiration is good for is getting you started. The rest of the Time you have to knuckle down and write the story and as has been already said this takes discipline. And inspiration it self is not a majical thing tha t falls out of the sky. Inspiration it’s self is the product of time and hard work. And remember if you had a good idea once you will have them again. No need to be greedy about good ideas.
     
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  8. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

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    I simply don't start the other piece. I scribble enough notes about the new idea to make it clear, put it in my "ideas" folder, and leave it alone. Not every idea you come up with will be a good one or stand the test of time. If it's good, the idea will hold until you're ready to do something with it. It's not unusual for me to be combing through my ideas folder a year later and think "God, what the hell was I thinking with that one? That would have sucked." About 20% of mine get tossed as idiotic, and of the remaining ones that sound good, a third to a half are unmarketable at any given time, and the rest are workable. Then it's a matter of choosing one.

    Harnessing creativity by developing laser focus is something I had to learn to do fairly early on as a non-fiction article writer, because researching something or interviewing someone always leads to more questions (as it should), and to many more ideas. Laser focus is part of the gig, because deadlines are tight. That methodology applies to fiction and any other creative endeavor. Imagine what would happen if Steven Spielberg, while in the middle of making a film, suddenly started to follow his muse somewhere else. Or a musician, while they're making a long-form album. You have to learn how to rein it in and control it and direct it where you want it to go.
     
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  9. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Member

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    Nope, never. Given what I'm doing though, I think I have a solution for when new ideas pop into your head: write multiple PoVs... that way you've got multiple moving pieces along a greater story.

    Of course, if they're totally divorced from each other and have no reason to ever connect, then I think the best solution is to incorporate the new idea into the existing project.
     
  10. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Active Member

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    So, my current WIP is a Sci-fi (space opera-ish). i've taken that world and its characters and branched off into their own stories or "books." I've found that its been helping me to branch off from the main WIP because it helped me develop the world more. The main WIP takes place in these 2 neighboring cities and these 2 groups.... the other "books" expand on the world to include the nomads that roam around outside of the cities. Their customs, mythologies, and language have emerged as well. Even though these branches don't fit into my main WIP, its easier to write about the world they are in having written or started these side stories. Some characters from the side stories are even referenced in some way or form.

    I guess i'm slowly developing a rhythm. I want to stay within this "world" now that I've found it.... that means putting ideas for other off the grid stories on the back burner
     
  11. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Member

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    Depending on what's going on, you might actually be best off focusing on making these "side stories" the main story, you know? After all a completely fresh and alien world can be fun to explore, perhaps more so than what you might have had for a main plot.

    I would suggest you do it all and should it grow very big, break it into smaller books. I think if you've got this deep world simmering in your head and you really enjoy fleshing it out via the perspective of side characters, then I think you ought to focus on that since it'll probably come out much better than a main story you're not all that interested in (at least by comparison).

    Maybe once you've gotten far enough in the side stories, you'll have new ideas for the main story and so it'll come out well. Maybe you can find a way to integrate them so they're all parts of an over-arching story.

    In short: I think you're on the right track!
     
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  12. Lew

    Lew Member Supporter Contributor

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    I have two pieces of humor on my writing station. One is a twnty year old Shoe that shows Shoe at his desk, piled high with papers, shuffling them around, making paper airplanes out of them, when someone comes in to chat with him. His response? "Not now! Can't you see I am writing?"

    The other is just a simple piece of text in very large type "IGNORE SHINY OBJECTS!"
     
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  13. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes I've gone through the same thing.
    Eventually you have to make a stand, though or you'll never get anything done. I just completed a first draft of a novel and it's the result of jumping from another novel (In the Pit) that I was about ten chapters into. The only reason I jumped ship was that I assumed I was just stopping to write a simple short story but after a few pages realized I had a novel and couldn't stop. I've done this a few times and it can be a terrible habit because at what point do I stop? My folders are full of half finished stories -- more half finished than finished.
    For me my usual procedure is just to write out a summary of the idea along with a few pages so I can get the tone right and then I put it in a folder and go back to my project. I try not to get too overly excited about the new idea because I know that the excitement is a bit false cause it's fresh n' shiny it's not necessarily better. Also there is an advantage to setting aside these pieces … if they're not plaguing you a year later they probably weren't worth it.
     
  14. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I think a lot of this depends on your goals as a writer. If you're writing to express yourself, write what will best express your self. If you're writing for fun, write what's fun. If you're writing for publication, write what's most likely to get published. And that will mean finishing projects and having them fit within reasonable, marketable limits in terms of length, style, etc.
     
  15. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Active Member

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    What if it is all rolled in to one? I have quite a few shorts that I've finished. They came about because I just wanted to write it down. Didn't have a plan or a reason. Later when I've finished them, I contemplate submitting them. I find it easier just to write and not think about publication. When they are finished then I think about possibly submitting. I've tried writing for publication before... reading the prompts, the journal/magazine themes, other stories they've feature..... and my mind goes blank:superfrown:

    I think a goal is to eventually finish a novel, but the funny thing is, I never started it with the intention of getting it published.
     
  16. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I guess then you'd have to figure out whether your goals are incompatible, or whether you can really have it all. If you can write something you enjoy, something that expresses yourself, and that you think will have a good chance of getting published? Rock on.

    If you don't think you can achieve all three, I guess you have to decide which is more important to you.
     
  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Yep. I think I'm likely diverging too far from publishable with the HFN. A fantasy without a whole lot of fantasy stuff. A male and female protagonist but not a romance. Right now it's much too long, though I suspect I can fix that.

    It's still fulfilling my current goal, which is to Finish A Novel. And I plan to get it to a point where I think it's worth trying to submit it. But when I move on to the next thing, I'll do my best to get excited about something that feels more marketable.
     
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  18. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Active Member

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    Oh yes, this happens to me all the time! But since I am currently really far in my current fantasy story, but I keep dreaming of ideas for my sci-fi story, I have to put my foot down and tell myself that I should not touch my sci-fi story until the fantasy story is finished. Because this whole back-and-forth thing and getting new inspiration/ideas for new stories is one of many reasons why I have never finished a novel. And I really need to reach this goal, because it's taken too long for me to get this far.
     
  19. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think we get pulled away from some things for good reasons. I know that's the case with me. I've abandoned plenty of stories that just weren't that good. But I've also finished stories that were that good and sold. I believe we have to write the bad stories to write the good ones. And if a good story is calling you, why would you not listen? I get it that some people just jump from project to project and never finish things. I think we need a little of that. And it's okay because the right one is going to come along. I believe I will finish my current novel. I like writing it. It's kind of my friend. But I've been called away from it and probably wrote about a dozen short stories along side it. My short stories (some of them) are starting to sell so I think it was good to follow the stories that I felt were calling me. And the novel is still there, still my friend. But I've got a few things in the works. There's always going to be something to work on and I believe we write the right things at the right times.
     
  20. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    My muse is a fickle bitch, and when I'm slogging through my first draft I probably have at least new ideas hit me that seem like a much better idea than the story I'm currently working on. I am not someone who does well working on multiple stories at the same time, so if I were to listen to her siren song (so seductive, she is!) I'd never finish anything. I don't really write the other ideas down though - I figure the good ones will stick and the bad ones will float away on the wind.
     
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  21. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    There's a skill in finishing a story.
     

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