One of the first things I did when I got back from Nevada was plant a vegetable garden. It wasn’t what I expected to be doing. I thought I’d end up glued to my computer, tapping out everything I had learned, and applying it post haste.
My head was overflowing with inspiration and that was part of the problem. I needed time to let everything settle – to absorb all the wonderful experiences and writerly suggestions – to put things in perspective..
When I think about it, it wasn’t all that surprising that I felt the need to plant something. Growing vegetables is all about nurturing – putting care into something and watching it flourish. It’s pretty much like that with story ideas. They have to be nurtured but they also have to have time to grow and flourish.
I found things that people said, and tips they gave were things I could use in so many different ways. A comment here or there, someone’s observations about their own manuscript – small things that triggered ideas for big changes in my own works.
My verse novel characters need more back story and problems, my YA thriller needs more contrast in character voices – and my mid grade needed an element to ground the character and the story.
But for now, I’m still savouring the experience and sorting out priorities in my head.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed with ideas and suggestions, take time out. Do something completely different, something creative in a different way. This will allow your brain time to process everything and work out priorities.
- Write down everything that’s going on in your brain – have a separate page for each manuscript or project – that way you don’t get confused or stressed from trying to keep it all in your head.
- When you’re ready, give yourself time to write.
- Write down everyone’s suggestions, but don’t feel you have to take them all on board – some you will disregard completely – others will be triggers for completely different ideas.
- Decide which project you are going to focus on, and go for it – the others can wait.
- When you are considering everyone’s suggestions, don’t lose sight of YOUR vision for the story. I write down in large letters, “My character wants …” I keep this piece of paper with me to keep reminding myself what my story is really about.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself. Allow the creativity to flow in whichever direction it wants – don’t try to force things or contain your ideas.
- Walk the dog, relax and follow your creative heart.
I’d love to know how you handle things when your brain is overflowing with ideas and stimulus. Feel free to share your tips in the comments section of this post.