When Your Awesome Writer’s Brain Won’t Stop – Idea Overload

Sometimes writers have the complete opposite problem of writer’s block. As in, their brains won’t shut down and starts churning out all these good ideas that you want to follow through on and can’t because there are only so many hours in a week (I like my sleep, people).

For example, I’m still working on my superhero novel (Story 1). I still have a ways to go on that, unfortunately, but as I drifted off to sleep the other night, an idea popped into my head for a twist on a ghost and witch story (Story 2). When I started gathering ideas for that, I went back into an old novel I’d started a year or so back (Story 3). When I actually started reading what I had, however, I actually liked the story I’d been building (sort of a witchy murder mystery thriller) and decided that I didn’t want to fold that into Story 2. Oh–and I’m still getting hit with various ideas when I want to start working on the second book in the Gifted series! How does one prevent their brain from exploding again?!

So. Now I have 3 story ideas that I love and want to build on. This is where I need to be careful–writers tend to get overwhelmed when inspired because our brains are moving so fast on character development, plot twists, particular scenes or phrases, and the like. For example, I learned that I must really love the name Penelope–because I’ve got a character in Story 3 named Penny and a character in Story 2 named Penelope! So now I need to change one of the names, which means I may need to change other things in the story if I’ve built something around that name or its meaning. I need to make my stories discernibly different from one another to prevent reader confusion (or aggravation) and especially to keep everyone from assuming I work on some kind of formula (because I definitely don’t).

I also know that I shouldn’t be writing them all at the same time. There lies my problem–when hit with inspiration, I want to write down everything I can to save myself time and of course get it all out on paper for later referencing. But next thing you know, it’s a month later and you’ve worked on Story 2 so long that Story 1 feels neglected and sad and now you have TWO half-assed manuscripts instead of one full one. It’s especially bad when I feel stuck in another story with the plot–I move on to something I CAN write out and next thing you know, you haven’t touched the first story in months. Considering I’ve been telling everyone my next story is this Super Nova title, maybe I need to get control of the story situation and focus on one thing at a time.

I still don’t want to forget what I’ve come up with for the next title, though. So what do you do? I immediately write everything I think is pertinent. But then I set it aside and go back to finish the first story. I have to force myself to do it sometimes, especially when I’m inspired for another piece, but I know I don’t want to end up with 3 half-finished manuscripts – only to come up with ANOTHER story idea I want to work on, sidetracking me even more. It’s a vicious cycle, no? It’s about your focus–setting aside time to really concentrate on one idea at a time, putting your entire everything into it before moving on to the Next Great Project.

Some of it, of course, might not pan out, despite your thinking right now that it’s the greatest storyline ever thought up. And we have to keep in mind that there might already be several books out with similar plots or worlds, which means you may have to scrap it for fear of copycat syndrome (or you can call it your “fan fiction” and make a million dollars. I hear it’s been known to happen). In the end, that’s what I’d call quality–you can churn out 100 ideas, but sometimes there’s only going to be one great idea that sticks. One sounds like a fabulous book now might fall apart later–yet another reason to work one one thing at a time to make sure you’re producing the best work you can, as well as keeping an eye on the market to prevent oversaturation of your genre.

What do you do when too many good ideas hit you at once? How do you separate them from one another? And if you need more help with this, Writer’s Digest has a great article to consider our “Too Many Great Ideas” problem.

Author Interview (Writers): Samantha Young

Today’s author interview for writers is with Samantha Young, indie author of Smokeless Fire, book 1 in the Fire Spirits series. You can read my review of Smokeless Fire here or go back and read part one of Samantha’s interview on the book here.

What was your process for your book from creation to publication?
My process is pretty formulaic. Research, note taking, basic plot plan, character plotting, comprehensive chapter summaries, writing the novel, collaborate with cover artist, do cover reveal, tease readers with small teasers on blog and social sites, organize a two week blog tour, editing the novel, send manuscript to beta readers, edit the manuscript, send manuscript to professional editor, upload manuscript to amazon for publication. 🙂

How long would you say it took from final edit to selling copies?
 From final edit to selling copies? Only days. By the time Smokeless Fire was ready for publication I already had a small but growing readership from my other series. Along with keeping them informed of the upcoming release, I had arranged a blog tour with lots of info and giveaways, plus a number of reviews, so there was immediate interest. I started selling as soon as the book went live on amazon and because of the success from the blog tour, Smokeless Fire shot straight into the bestseller lists.

Why did you choose to self-publish? What are your preferred methods of marketing your books?
 I took time with my decision to self-publish. Research was key because I didn’t want to put all my efforts and passion into the writing if I wasn’t going to give just as much effort to making sure people were aware about my books. I follow Joe Konrath’s blog, A Newbies Guide to Publishing, and I also follow Amanda Hocking and have done almost from the beginning of her writing career as an indie. So I knew that writers were making a success of self-publishing. The idea of having complete control over the entire publication process – from content, to cover art, to marketing – that appealed to me, as did the higher royalty rates indies were receiving through amazon. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try self-publishing. And it definitely hasn’t. I love being a self-published writer. I feel very blessed to be doing something I love so much for a career.

My preferred methods of marketing: Bloggers! I love bloggers. They are the most awesome people in the world. Not only do they happily chat back to me when I get all geeky and fan girl over a book (I’m a huge book addict) but they take time out of their busy lives to either read and review my books, give me an interview, or host a giveaway on my behalf. If it weren’t for bloggers my sales would never have taken off.  I also think it’s important to make yourself visible on social sites. I have a personal blog I update regularly. I have an author’s facebook page where I interact with readers almost on a daily basis and I use twitter and goodreads to reach out to followers and readers. Best part is that it’s all free marketing AND it’s effective.

Would you recommend self-publishing to aspiring indie authors?
 Pros: 1. Complete control over the entire process. 2. You set your own deadlines. 3. Higher royalty rates. 4. The indie community is a friendly, open place where most indie authors are willing to help each other out and offer free advice.

Cons: 1. All the work comes down to you – writing, formatting,marketing etc – and you have to rely on yourself to find a good cover artist and editor. It can be time consuming and take you away from the actual writing.

Any mistakes you’ve made or particularly wise advice you’d give for authors? (can be anything—more research, a scene you’d edit, or if it was me, not letting myself get so easily distracted by TV/dog/etc.)
Lol, yes, don’t let yourself get distracted, especially if you set deadlines. I’ve recently decided to stop setting specific deadlines for the release of a novel. It’s difficult to estimate when cover art will be ready, when editing and copyediting will be finished and when all beta readers will get back to you. I only give ‘target dates’ to my readers now. Less stressful :-p Also, I recommend you really research your editor before you choose them. I use a great editing service now and it just makes the whole manuscript that much more polished and professional.

 How the hell do you balance everything? Family, friends, everyday activities, work, AND several books? Spill the secret, Wonder Woman.
 Haha, I don’t know! Seriously, I have no idea how I get everything done. I think I’m just a really fast typist! And if I’m honest, I do let some things slide. My friends and family will tell you that when I’m in the middle of writing a new book I am practically a hermit. They only see me on the weekends and they don’t take offense when I forget to call them back or text them to reassure them I’m still alive. They all know when I’m done with the first edit on a manuscript because they start getting invites to lunch etc and I actually pick up the phone when they call :-p

Tell us about your gorgeous book cover—the process, how much input you had, how you went about deciding that was JUST right?
I’m lucky that my cover artist, Claudia Mckinney of Phatpuppy Art, has such amazing vision. I had this image of the book cover of Smokeless Fire in my head. I literally described the vision of the girl shrouded in flames to Claudia and only hours later she came back to me with the cover of Smokeless Fire and I didn’t have to make one change to it. It was just…Perfect. With Claudia, you get a lot of input. She’s so professional and so friendly. Also, she’s now started offering custom photoshoots for clients for exclusive book covers. I hired Claudia and photographer Teresa Yeh for the book cover of Borrowed Ember (Fire Spirits #3) and it’s been an amazing process so far. Authors can contact Claudia via her website http://www.phatpuppyart.com to discuss quotes for cover art.

What are the next big plans for you in regards to your writing?
I’m loving every minute of writing the Fire Spirits series and this series is going to take me into 2013. But I am really, very excited about next year because I plan to kick off my first adult fiction series. It’s all very hush, hush at the moment but I can’t wait to share more with my older readers in the future about it. All I can say for now is that it’s an adult urban fantasy/dystopian series. It’s going to be refreshing to write from an adult P.O.V. and be able to stretch the limits of my content a little more.

Thanks so much Samantha! Readers, go check out her books at her website here and keep up with all the good news she’s bringing from her part of the world. I’m sure she’d love to hear from you and hear your thoughts on her novels!