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Old 05-12-2012, 08:54 PM   #1
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The post-block: a deluge of ideas

I'm wondering if this happens to other people, at times, and what you do with it when it does.

I had written a third of a really long family saga novel, got stuck, and stayed stuck for a lousy four months. Finally, I said, okay, enough, put that on the back burner and work on this other idea I really like. (Yeah, yeah, I hate not finishing projects too, but I was stuck, and I'm not getting any younger. And it's not like I don't have any finished novels; I do.)

Working on the new thing feels good, feels terrific in fact, after that long phase of banging my head against the wall. But this odd thing has happened in that I'm getting all sorts of new ideas for other big projects as well now. I'm getting them as I research the current project. I'm getting them when I do dishes. I had a dream with the best idea, I kid you not, for a TV series (it had charm, comedy, drama, pathos, I could almost see the whole script for the first episode when I woke up), a genre I never even considered playing in.

The dam of the "block" (I'm not sure it's fair to call it that, actually, more like my uncertainty and boredom had overwhelmed my enthusiasm) has burst and ideas are just pouring through me. I'm friggin' Mt. St. Helens. I try to jot them down and promise them I'll get back to them eventually (if I live long enough). But it's a bit distracting. I know the distraction may be the point of it, in fact, a twisted subconscious way I'm keeping myself from writing a new novel. But it's good, too. Some of these are pretty cool ideas I could see pursuing eventually.

I know, believe me, that these are the "problems" to have, posting here on the writer's block page.

I'm curious about others who have had this. (Surely I'm not the only one.) What do you do in such cases? Wave the distractions away? Follow them each for awhile? Do what I'm doing and jot them down but get right back to WIP?
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Old 05-23-2012, 05:55 PM   #2
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They call them plot-bunnies. Coz they breed like rabbits while you're trying to finish your book, one better idea after the other.

I deal with them by thinking about them for a bit. If the idea is interesting enough I'll think of a title for the book that goes with the idea. But I keep on the Beatles philosophy of writing things down. They never wrote down any of their songs, they figured, if we can't remember them, why should anybody else? So I let those ideas slip back into my subconcious for my mind to have as raw material when I finish the current work.
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Old 05-23-2012, 05:59 PM   #3
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ps - I like that you promise the ideas you'll get back to them. I thank my subconcious for the wonderful idea and ask it to hold onto it for me untill I've finished.
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:10 PM   #4
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I open a Word doc and write down everything I can about the SNI (Shiny New Idea). I start character charts for the MCs and the antagonist. I jot down research I'll need to do. Sometimes I'll create the beginnings of a spreadsheet for the outline as well.

Then I name the docs with the subject of the SNI, whisper sweet words to them, tuck them in, and quietly close the door. This almost always satisfies them till I can return to them. SNIs are gifts from the writing gods, IMO. I always treat them with love.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:57 AM   #5
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So encouraging to read this as I sit with stuckness. But I've had that experience too --- once on a bumpy flight to Durban early in the morning, I found myself hearing a polyphonic series of novels start up in my head like music, all kinds of voices and snippets of dialogue.

I sat and scribbled down whatever I could retain and that piece of foolscap paper is now pinned above my writing desk. Little by little I am drawing on those ideas and voices.
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:16 PM   #6
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Generally the plot-bunny/SNI is looked upon as a form of procrastination in a different outfit, - and they can become that - but I like callalilly's point, they def are a gift. And I expect that the reason they happen when you're at a difficult point in your MS is because your mind is working so hard to find solutions that it's generating all these wonderful extras.
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Old 05-24-2012, 07:29 PM   #7
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Thanks for the insights and personal experiences. I'm pretty mired in my WIP now, it's going well, and the other ideas have quit coming. Now, I'm lying in bed and it's a line for a scene down the road in the WIP that comes up, which is terrific. I still have the deluge, but it's a focused deluge. And yeah, it still is a giddy relief after the four months of pain.

Still, that TV show.... If I were young, hip, and living in L.A., I'd put on a tight blouse and pitch the hell out of it.
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