Hello! I’m Joshua Winning and I write things. As I start work on a new book, I’m going to chart my journey from concept to completion. Wanna come? This week: ideas.
Is it possible to have too many ideas?
This is the problem: it’s been a while since I’ve started something new. Last week, my YA thriller Vicious Rumer was published by Unbound. In July, the third book in The Sentinel Trilogy – Splinter – is being published by Peridot Press. I’ve been editing both projects for roughly a year, with no time to write anything from scratch.
So the prospect of starting something new is both terrifying and exhilarating. I feel like a clown in a costume shop. Which curly wig will I choose? Which enormo floppy shoes will prove the most rewarding?
Most of the time, I’m worried I don’t have any ideas. But the weird thing is that, as I start thinking about what I might want to write next, I find I’m drowning in little proto-concepts. I’m talking tiny book nuggets that could grow into full manuscripts, or could merely be brain farts that amount to nothing more than smelly, passing distractions.
Apparently this is a problem lots of writers contend with. And it has a name: TMIS, Too Many Ideas Syndrome. There’s a great post at Writer’s Digest here about how to overcome the trauma of having a brain just TOO FULL of the good stuff.
I currently have four (yes, four) ideas kicking around in my head. I’m not saying any of them are good, and I certainly don’t want to be all ‘poor me, I have so many ideas and my diamond shoes won’t come off’. But I really want to write something new and I honestly don’t know which one of the four I’d enjoy writing most.
Ideally, I’d like to thrash out a first draft of something by December. Not because anybody’s waiting on me or anything, but because it’s good to keep the ball rolling. You learn by doing, right? And I feel like I’ve learned A LOT in the past few years.
So this is what I’m going to do…
- Write character profiles for all four projects. These will be as in-depth as possible (their fears, their loves, their favourite music) because stories are nothing without well-rounded characters. If a particular character really grabs my attention, that’s a great reason to tell their story.
- Write single-page plot outlines for all four projects. This is the toughie because plot details can be tricky and I’m not hugely specifics-oriented. I’ve been both a planner and a panter – I planned Splinter meticulously but I wrote Vicious Rumer on the fly and really found the plot in the first edit. In that case, though, the character of Rumer was so clear in my mind that the plot almost came naturally. I know, living the dream, right?
- Brainstorm titles. Sometimes coming up with a killer title can really make an idea come to life.
- Create Pinterest boards. I’ve only ever played around with mood boards once, on Splinter, and it was fun but felt sort of like procrastinating. I’ve noticed a lot of writers using Pinterest to create mood boards as they prepare to write, so I’m giving it a whirl to see what happens.
Once I’ve done this, I’m going to leave them for a few days. And then I’ll figure out which one gets me most excited. I know, that’s a fair bit of work, so I’m aiming to have all four ideas plotted by mid-May so I can start writing.
70,000 words by December is doable, right? RIGHT?!
I’ll report back in the next Win Bin.
Wish me luck!