Writers Wednesdays: The “New Idea” Trap

Welcome back for this week’s installment of Writers Wednesday! In my last Writers Wednesday post, I mentioned that there were a few things that I knew would be challenging going forward into this new cycle. I want to identify the challenges ahead of time, so that I can prepare myself. To leap into a new cycle without figuring out the potential traps would be quite possibly the worst way to start things this go around.

The first challenge I identified was the trap of chasing new writing ideas. This is, no doubt, the BIGGEST trap for me. Whenever I have to start the editing and publishing processes, I can think of a dozen other book ideas, and, in my eagerness, I’ll start writing something new. Unfortunately, when I start writing a new work, I almost never get back to the tasks that need my attention: y’know, the ones that result in published books.

The end result? A lot of half-finished books, and very little to show for my efforts. The thing is, all that really counts when you’re a writer is when your finished work is in your readers’ hands. A bunch of partially-written manuscripts can’t instruct, inspire and influence the people that you want to impact. So, getting constantly lured in by “new” book ideas is almost always a convenient distraction from the hard work of editing and publishing.

For this next writing cycle, I will not be writing any new works. However, I hate the thought of getting a great idea and possibly “losing” the idea. For this reason, I will be implementing an “index card” system. I recall reading about this first in Write It Down, Make It Happen by Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser (I discussed the book a little in this post). Instead of spending a lot of time writing all of the ideas that flood to my mind, I’ll just jot down the idea on an index card, then put the card aside until I’m free to flesh out the idea more. This allows me to catch the idea while it’s fresh, but it eliminates the temptation that comes from typing the idea into a document file (which usually lures me into writing a chapter or two, instead of just typing my ideas briefly, and moving along).

Do you have any ideas for avoiding the “new idea” trap? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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