3 Ways to Handle the Overwhelm of too Many Story Ideas

by Jennifer Harris

As writers we’re creative and that means story ideas tend to pop up at every turn. Just sitting at a traffic light observing what’s happening around us could be the starting point for a complete novel! Pretty soon our brains become overpopulated with ideas until we find ourselves overwhelmed, stuck, or jumping from project to project before one is even complete.

So, what can we do with all these ideas crowding our minds? Below I share three ways to handle too many story ideas.

1 | SUMMARIZE AND EXTERNALIZE: Keep a notebook, index cards, notes app on your phone, any tool that will help you jot the idea down quickly. Summarize your idea in a few sentences. By doing this, you are externalizing the information, clearing up space in your mind so you can focus on your current project, knowing that your idea is safely notated and easily accessed at a later date.

2 |  WRITE A SHORT STORY OR NOVELLA: If the idea is really stuck in your head and is calling for you to do something with it right away, consider writing a short story or novella. Short stories are great for improving your craft and have the potential to turn into something even bigger, whether it be a collection of short stories or a full-length novel.

In January, Doreen Rankin and I published a novella (Providence) based on an idea that just wouldn’t go away a couple of months ago. It was written in between two full-size novels, and has morphed into a plan for a series of seven novellas! Not only is it now a published book, but it was a great writing exercise in the art of writing novellas.

3 | USE YOUR IDEAS AS PART OF YOUR CURRENT WIP: Sometimes, the ideas that pop into your head can be used as subplots or events in your current story. Write all your ideas down and see where they connect or could possibly cross paths.

Hopefully, with the tips above, you’ll be able to clear a bit of the noise and have fun with all the ideas brewing in your head. Use your imagination and the possibilities are endless!

Do you find yourself with too many story ideas? How do you handle the Overwhelm? Share your tips in the comments below!

Jennifer Harris is an editor of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the co-author of The Catalyst Series as well as The Providence Novella Series (J.L. Harris and D. Rankin). When she is not writing or editing, you can find her running, hiking, reading, or playing the piano. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, two dogs, and cat. You can find out more about Jennifer by connecting with her in our Authors Community Forum where you’ll find her social media information, or visiting her author page. You can request Jennifer’s editing services here.

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