When I was twenty or so, I wrote a post in a forum I frequented, asking what to do when you had so many stories to tell and no time to tell them. The answers I got weren’t that helpful and could be summed up with “keep a notebook on you”. Now, over a decade later, I realise that these people also had no idea. I still have too many stories in me – back then I said I had 17 which is about the same number as I got now, with the difference that these days they’re more fully formed. It’s no long “hey wouldn’t it be fun if I wrote something about this character” and more “this is what’s going to happen, this is what it’s about, this is how I’ll distribute it if I ever get the time to write it” which is a great feeling but also fucking exhausting.
So, here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up over the last decade of having too many ideas. Use them if you think they’re helpful, and tell me in the comments if you got any tricks of your own to not lose your mind.
- Write them down in an organised fashion. How you do this is up to you, but I’ve lost so much work and momentum to simply not finding my notes because they’re all over the place. If you’re one to write down ideas on napkins or the back of envelopes or text messages to yourself, make a (physical or digital) folder to keep them in. Dedicate a space to the project.
- Allow yourself to make them real. This is a big hurdle for me, though I think I’m starting to overcome it. Working on something and thus making it a real thing rather than just a concept or an idea can be scary, because you can’t fuck up an idea. Let yourself think about the thing in a real sense – how are you going to distribute it? What is it supposed to look like in the end? Allow yourself to think about it like a job, not a frivolous past time even if you have no intention of pitching to a publisher or selling it in any way. What will it look like? What is it supposed to be?
- Allow yourself to work on them. Set aside some time to dig in, write outlines, write scenes, sketch characters, whatever brings you a little closer to seeing the whole picture.
- Just do it. Seriously, just do it. Throw yourself headfirst into the process and see what comes out. This is scary, but it won’t stop being scary if you wait longer.
That’s it. Everything else, from discussing writing software to what pens you use to how to decorate your writing nook is just building gazebos no one needs. Find the way that allows you to do your best work and then do the work. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.