What do we do when we have too many ideas whirling around in our heads? How do we know which way to turn, which of them to listen to?
To me, it’s simple: listen to the one that makes the most noise.
I often have numerous ideas in my head, vying for attention to be made into something bigger. None of them get ignored; I pay attention to every single one. The opening paragraphs are composed, the characters are brought to life, the scenes are set. All too many times, I have a handful of opening paragraphs to work with. But how do we know which one should get to be completed first?
I had a conversation recently with a fellow writer–Aimee Laine–who had this exact issue. She’d happily begun a new novel, even got over a third of the way through, but then she had a dream. Aimee is one of the unfortunates who rarely remember their unconscious thoughts upon waking, so for her to recall the events which took place within her mind during slumber was a momentous enough occasion for her to sit up and take notice of them.
But she didn’t know what to do. She had this novel she’d begun which she thought was a winner, and then she had this scene from her dream nagging in her ear.
I told her to listen to the nagging one; chances were it was nagging for a reason.
We tossed arguments for and against between us, until I told her this: If an idea comes to you and is so strong you feel the urge to write it down, and it bugs the hell out of you because it’s filled your head, listen to the amount of noise it’s making. I have loads of shorts, as well as a couple of novels, with only the opening paragraphs or chapters written because something more dominant seeped into my head and nudged them aside. I will revisit them, but only when my mind tells me I’m allowed (as insane as that makes me appear). I told her to get in her boat and go with the flow–if the current’s heading toward the new idea, that’s the way you need to start floating.
Thankfully, Aimee listened to me. Her novel, Do Over, is now two parts-out-of-three written and, having been fortunate to be privy to the work-in-progress, I already know she’s on the verge of creating yet another awesome tale.
See? On occasion, I do talk sense.