Writers find ideas everywhere. They pop up seemingly out of nowhere, and you can often find yourself brimming with inspiration. When this happens, it can be hard to focus on your work in progress. It’s so easy to become gripped by the excitement of a new idea. As such, I’d like to share someways to remain loyal to your WIP, when inspiration strikes.
Write down new ideas in a separate notebook
I am in support of ignoring the shiny new idea, until your current project is complete. But that doesn’t mean you should shut it down completely. Jot down every idea, and store it away for another day. Writers write, after all, and you’ll want those ideas for projects in the future. Keep them in a separate notebook, so you’re not tempted by then, but keep them all there. The act of writing them down will stop your mind from resurfacing the idea as it grapples to remember it. And you may even use some of your notes to enhance your work in progress instead of a new story.
Turn your new idea into a short story
If you really, truly cannot rest until you’ve told your story, consider making it a short one. Set yourself a strict word count, and use it as a writing exercise. Writing short stories can teach you a lot about writing novels. It’s also a great way to keep yourself writing if you’re blocked or in a writing slump. And above all, it ensures you don’t spend too much time on it, allowing you to get back to your novel as soon as possible.
Use the new idea as a treat, to motivate yourself
This has worked for me in the past. Set yourself mini-tasks. “If I write 2,000 words today, I can work on my new idea.” Or “if I finish this draft my next month, I can do some work on my new idea.” You’re essentially turning that new idea into a treat/reward to motivate you do meet your own deadlines.
Work on both at the same time
Personally, this isn’t one for me, but it works for others. There are pros and cons to working on two ideas at once, and if you can do it, great! Why not? All writing is writing, and if it keeps you in the habit then that’s perfect. There’s no rule on this. It’s all about personal preference.
How do you cope when new, exciting ideas strike? How do you remain loyal to your main project? Drop your answer below, as I could definitely do with the insight!