I love coming up with new stories. I think I’ve started almost 50 different stories, but along the line somewhere, I either lose my motivation or I become overwhelmed. I’ve tried bringing in different co-writers to keep me accountable, but I end up losing interest because they don’t have the same vision for the story that I do.
Part of being a writer is learning to choose and idea and stick with it, through thick and thin. If you can’t do that, you’ll never be an author.
And, bear in mind, I don’t say that to be harsh. I say that because it’s a fact, just like you’ll never be a doctor if you don’t push yourself to finish medical school, or you won’t be an Olympic ice skater if you don’t push yourself to go to practice every morning. These are just the realities of being the things we want to be.
There are some things you can do to make things easier on yourself:
1) Start a “plot bunnies” file or notebook if you don’t have one already. I have mine separated into different categories besides just plot ideas. I have a section for setting ideas, character ideas, name ideas, title ideas–any possible idea I could get goes in that file. What this does is it allows you to get ideas out of your head and stashed someplace safe, so that you don’t have the overwhelming urge to follow every thread the moment it occurs to you. It can make it easier to focus solely on your WIP.
2) When you’re ready to start a new WIP, read through the plot ideas you have stored and choose one that really stands out to you. You may need to do a little process of elimination if more than one is calling to you. Once you’ve picked your idea, sit down and plot that puppy out. You can do an old fashioned plot outline, you can do a beginning to end summary, you could do a timeline of events or a scene list–whatever works. The point is to map it all out, at least generally, before you sit down to write. Knowing where you’re going and generally how you will get there can be crucial to staying on task once your writing is underway.
3) Some people can work on multiple WIPs at once, but if you’re someone who has trouble finishing a story, don’t try. Just focus on the one thing at a time. If you start feeling your attention or love for your WIP slipping, go to my post master list and look at the motivation section. There are several posts there that deal with troubleshooting stalled stories and getting excited about your story again.
4) Make yourself follow through no matter how much you’re struggling with an idea. Writing a story is not supposed to be easy. Writing a novel is a thousand times less than easy. Writing a series is like trying to climb a rope of string cheese to the moon. It’s really not possible to write a story without coming up against huge obstacles, whether that’s lost inspiration, lost confidence, story problems, life getting in the way, etc., etc., etc. If you’re just going to give up every time that happens and start a new story, you’re never going to finish one. So, learn to follow through. Every story you follow to completion will give you that much more skill and confidence, and soon it will be easier and easier for you to complete your stories.
Have a writing question? I’d love to hear from you! Prohibited topics: portrayal of diverse characters, emotions, specialist knowledge questions (medical, etc.), “how to portray/describe,” asking for tropes/cliches; broad, vague, or complicated questions. See master list & main site for more info!