Hello. My name is Angie and I’m a cheater.
You see, every time I’m working on a story (a story I love and perhaps have even already been paid for) some new and exciting idea sneaks into my mind and does a sexy little Chippendales dance to distract me.
I don’t intend to cheat. I fully understand and respect the bonds of a publishing contract. But those new characters. That new setting. That new, fantastic plot. How can a writer resist?
Then, of course, all I can think about is this new idea. The one that’s going to be “big,” maybe even a “break out” novel. How can it not be? It’s perfect! It’s dark and romantic and the main character will be the greatest heroine of all time, and the hero will be terribly conflicted and dangerous, but equally good at heart, and not to mention smoldering.
**Um, Angie? This is reality calling. Can you please come back down to earth now?**
See what I mean?
I am in awe of writers who can focus on one book or one idea at a time. I wish I could be one of them, but I’m not. And then that leaves me feeling as if I’m not fully giving myself to the book I’m writing or revising. That if I’m not focusing completely on that, it’s not going to turn out the way I envisioned it.
This happens to me so often that I needed a way to deal with it. So this is what I’m doing now:
• I open up a new Word document and add ideas to it as they come to me. But I don’t allow myself to actually write scenes.
• I paste in web links when I feel the desire to research, but I definitely do not take the time to fully read and absorb the research (THAT would be a dangerous road!).
• During the day, I work on the current project—the one I’m supposed to be working on. Each time temptation strikes and I start to think about this new idea, I remind myself that my time to do that will be when I lay down at night to go to sleep. Thankfully, I’m one of those people who can’t just fall asleep. I lay there, mind buzzing, for at least a half-hour. That is my time to flip through the new idea without guilt.
• If I’m still excited about the idea a month or two (or three) later, when I might finally have time to get started on it, then I know it’s the right one to pursue. So I guess I could look at this process as a testing period.
So, what do you do when you have two or more ideas at once? How do you deal with dividing your attention?