Too Much of a Good Thing

Is there such a thing as too many ideas? Turns out, maybe.

After finishing my last novel, now on submission, I was ready to get started on the next project. Excited, even. I have a file on my laptop where I stash ideas I get that are unrelated to my current work in progress. It’s a collection of notes to revisit at a later date. Some are text files with just one or two sentences, others might have whole paragraphs. One note had the word “the” and a link to an article I’d seen in Wired. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time. I’m guessing I got distracted before I finished the thought. Maybe it’ll come to me later. The point is, there were two or three ideas in my idea file that I couldn’t wait to finally get started on.

Then something unexpected happened. I couldn’t decide which one to dig into. Like, really undecided. I was frozen by not being able to choose. It stumped me for weeks. Here I’d spent months itching to get to one of these ideas and turn it into a full length, honest to goodness, book. And now that I found myself at “Go,” I couldn’t get started.

I tried taking the ideas chronologically. Start with the oldest one first and see what happened. I got 5 pages in when the siren call of the other 2 lured me away. Okay, then, I thought, I’ll just write 3 books simultaneously. How hard could that be, right? Turned out, it wasn’t so much hard as it was lame. These wonderful ideas that had been flickering in the back of my mind for months suddenly sucked. I couldn’t believe it.

I thought maybe the conundrum was my subconscious telling me to take a break. So I took long walks. I went on bike rides. I caught up on my TBR pile. But something was missing. Writing. It’s not just something I do, it’s part of who I am. So I started a new project, a short story. Something fresh and new.

Maybe I was just torturing myself but I kept the other pages open in the background. Where they each nagged at me. There was definitely something there and I couldn’t let those three ideas go. Then I got one of those shower-time epiphanies. You know the one, you’re in the shower or some other place where you can’t possibly reach a pen or a keyboard and a question or problem you’ve been puzzling over crystalizes. The ideas I couldn’t let go of weren’t for separate stories, they were all parts of the same story.

I’m off and running on the new book now. But I just got an idea for the next one…


  1. Robin, I have decided to write my ideas for future books in a notebook by hand because I seem to remember better what I was thinking at the time. When I enter them on a computer I seem to distance myself from them and occasionally wonder if I even wrote them. Pen to paper for this girl. Plus, there’s that neurological thing…

  2. I wish I could read my hand writing! Lol – I love writing but when I’m getting ideas down, I write too quickly and cannot read them. So it’s my phone or computer. But I try to write specific details and even a side note of why I feel strongly about the idea. That’s helped a lot to keep me in the idea and not distanced.

  3. My problem is too many handwritten pieces of paper (post-its, sheets of notebook paper of various sizes, lists). My desk is a jumble, and I have a hard time finding the note I need at the moment. I’ve started a notebook for my latest WIP (as I have for the previous two books), but I’m not great at organizing daily so research is mixed up with questions and lists and who-knows-what. Love the photo, by the way!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *