If you’re a writer (or any creative type, really), you’re probably working on at least two projects at any given time. So what do you do when you’re going along as planned, making headway (or not) on your current creative projects, and a Shiny New Idea hits you out of the blue?
The way I see it, there are three ways you can handle this:
File it away for later
Whether your Shiny New Idea is just the vaguest form of a concept or a full-blown Idea, write it down. You’ll never bring your Idea to fruition – now or later – if you don’t first write it down. And no, you won’t remember it later. Writing it down and filing it away is a good way to a) remember the Idea when the first Shininess has worn off, and b) let it cool before you interrupt all your current projects to work on it. Being creative is great, but some discipline is needed to finish projects. Resolving to file away for later every New Idea until you’ve finished at least one other project is a good way to discipline yourself and get things accomplished.
Mull it over and brainstorm and work it into your schedule
If your New Idea just won’t leave you alone and it keeps popping back up at inopportune moments, you might decide to go ahead and bring the Idea out of the file-for-later bin. But remember the thing about discipline and finishing stuff from point number one? If you’ve made certain goals or commitments with your current projects (whether it’s publishing deadlines, submitting work to your critique partners, or just a personal goal), make sure you don’t neglect these. If you’ve decided that you want to add one more project to your plate, then your schedule will likely have to get reworked.
Stop your life and do nothing but the New Idea
This is the most tempting when a Shiny New Idea hits, but it’s rarely a good thing to try. And if you’re an adult (or youth) with a job, school, or other responsibilities, then stopping your life for your latest Idea is fine because adulthood is overrated just isn’t possible.
I’ve been hit by a Shiny New Idea more times than I can count – and of course it always comes when I’m swamped with other projects, because I’m always swamped with other projects. About 90% of my Shiny New Ideas get put into category one. Some of them I have eventually made the time to get back to, but most are still on my to-do list. And that’s okay.
It’s good to remember that you can do anything you want, but not everything you want, and certainly not all at once.
So tell me – what do you do with your Shiny New Ideas?