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Should I let the idea sit a while?

When you have that fiery, thought consuming idea that's just eating up your mind, and you want to write it down so bad but you have another story you're working on...or at least that's what happens to me. Don't know if I should just get started on it and get it out of my system or if I should wait until I'm at least half way through my other story. I have a horrible habit of starting something and not finishing due to getting distracted by starting on something else. What should I do?

I just love getting creative, I guess, and I have a hard time tying myself down to just one idea.
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For me, it'd depend on several factors.

1. What length do you foresee for this new story? If it's a 5k short, I may be inclined to write it. If it's another novel, I'd shelve it and let the idea stew and grow a bit.

2. What is my current goal? If I'm nearing the third act of a project or drawing near completion, I'd be less willing to switch.

For example:
Right now, I'm less than a month from completing a first draft. Nothing will pull me off that aim. It's just too hard to get going again when you let go sometimes.

3. Do I feel my current project is a winner? I'm not talking about getting bored or having a straying eye. I'm saying that if my current project wasn't serious, but something I didn't intend to publish, submit, or enter it into a contest, I'd be much more likely to set it aside if the new idea did fall under that umbrella.

4. Understand, even with all the above factors, you learn a ton by actually finishing stories.


I'd recommend finishing something, seeing something through. Crank up the will-power.

Of course you like being creative. I do too. Maybe what you ought to try is to focus that creativity on one of your WIPs. Inject your half-done story with something new, or at least try to re-capture whatever it was that got you started on your story in the first place.


Honestly, I try to buckle down and finish what I'm working on. I'm easily distracted by new and shiny things and if I open the gateway to giving up on a story because a new idea comes along I know I'll never finish anything.


Myth Weaver
I will sometimes take a one or two session break to write a 1000 - 2000 word 'idea piece,' rough draft only, just to give me something to mull over later on when the current project is finished.


FINISH what you're currently working on, while at the same time brainstorm and plot the fiery idea. I have the same awful addiction of fresh smelling new ideas as you. This is what helps me. Give it a try, maybe? :)


toujours gai, archie
I'm not sure if this feels relevant, but I had to learn the hard way the difference between an idea and a story.

An idea is exciting and fun. Alluring. It's a candy bar.

A story takes work. I've *never* had a story spring to life. Only ideas pop up for me, but a story takes work. It requires some level outlining--sometimes just a sketch, sometimes full-blown outline. Often it's not really a story until the first draft is done.

I learned I had to approach writing a story in an entirely different way. It's a labor of love, but it's still labor. Work. It's the difference between noodling around on the piano and composing an entire song. You cannot rely on mere enthusiasm to carry you through to the end. You (and by "you" here I really mean "certainly me, maybe you") have to come at it the way you do any project: with a plan, with resolve, with commitment.

That's why I never finished any of my "ideas". Once I began saying "yeah, that's an interesting idea, but does it have enough meat to make it to Storyland", only then was I able to write completed tales.
I would also suggest focusing on your current project as juggling back and forth can get tedious and tiresome. However, carry a note pad with you and put any ideas you get for this second project that pop into your head into this journal. That way you can keep your ideas without forgetting them yet continue to work on your current project.

Although they require tweaking and polishing i find that the seemingly random ideas and inspirations that jump out in your mind are great ones to keep because they feel very "from the heart" so to speak. Not all of them will be keepers but you never know.