authors · writing · writing process

Multiple Idea Syndrome

There’s not an actual Multiple Idea Syndrome but I feel I suffer from it nonetheless.

What I intend this term to refer to is the moment where you are in the middle of writing a book, a story, an article, anything and then suddenly another idea comes flouncing into your head as if it’s expected. It strolls in, probably smoking, sits down in a comfortable armchair and opens up the morning paper, ignoring your astonished stares before merely saying: “Don’t mind me, carry on.”

Except I can’t carry on. I’m distracted now. This idea so wonderfully and almost fully formed in my brain needs to be written down before it leaves nothing but a rolled up ‘Times’ in its wake. So I write it down. I then write a bit of a few scenes that generates, you know, just while I’ve got the feel for the story.

No matter what I tell myself, gradually I’m forming the book and coming up with more chunks of story. My previous story sits to one side, a pout on its imaginary face going “I’ll just stay here then, shall I?” and by the time I realise that I was in the middle of doing something else, my original idea is being so damn stubborn it’s hard to get back into the flow.

I speak from recent experience. The idea I’ve been working on for 8 years was momentarily forgotten in favour of a brand new, fresh idea which was wonderfully simpler but no less a challenge to piece together. They’re all lovely characters, I’ve been with my dear George for a long time, but there’s an appeal of the new ones in their rich setting so different to the current one…

But no. I’ve invested such time and effort into George to get completely waylaid. I will woo and coax this story back into my affections and shower it with love, attention and gifts of an edit for chapter ten, maybe even chapter eleven if it just gives me some direction!

This is why MIS – my new term which I will use often – is troublesome but rewarding, because while I’m not able to concentrate on it right now, I’m very much looking forward to spending more time with my new friends and bringing their story to life once I’ve finished my original work.


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