The Too-Many-Stories Problem

1170196_bookcaseI have a problem. You see, I have this tendency to get a bit over-exuberant when it comes to story ideas and try to write four or five at once. I know, I know. “Don’t start another story until you finish the one in progress,” some say. “You’re setting yourself up for failure,” others offer. Despite knowing this fact, I still can’t seem to stop writing numerous stories–all at once.

Let me level with you. As of this moment I have:

  • 2 short stories that need revising,
  • 2 old short stories that need re-envisioning,
  • 3 short stories in progress, and
  • 1 novel in progress.

Yikes, typing it all out makes it even scarier. 

Problem is, I just have too many ideas that I want to see on the page. Sure, they’re fragmented, disjointed and generally don’t make sense until I make a story out of these blob-like ideas, but they demand to be written anyway. Add on top of my too-many-stories problem the fact that I write articles, press releases and web content for a living, my fingers are clacking away on the keyboard for a ridiculous portion of the day. 

I know I could just make a list of story ideas and check them off as I complete them, but something happens when I get an idea and let it sit too long: it gets stale. I can no longer picture what made the idea so great. Hence my hurry up and get it on the page mentality. 

So, what’s the solution? I really couldn’t tell you. What I do know is that I’m making a vow right now to finish one of the stories in my ever-growing queue before I start another. Hopefully, that will be a start back to the road of sanity.

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9 thoughts on “The Too-Many-Stories Problem

  1. Thanks for sharing this post, I found it very helpful. I’m a beginning copywriter, web content writer and blogger and all these tips are very useful. Actually, I don’t think it is such a concern, this”too-many-stories” problem. Because it’s not really a “story” that you’re writing each time an idea pops up, but a sketch. Which is perfectly normal and naturally better than making a grocery list of the marvelous ideas. A list kills the magic, I agree on that too..
    Anyway, good luck in solving this issue, which is not an issue at all as I see it )))

  2. That’s true. Many of the first drafts of my stories are more like outlines and very rough. Actually, I tend to freewrite my first drafts and let the plot meander all over the place. It’s in revision that I discover what the story is actually about. More work that most people want to go through, but it’s the only way I know how to write. Stories just don’t come together for me in my head, I have to trial and error the possibilities until I find what it is the piece is about. And thanks for the support. Good to know other writers go through this as well.

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  4. I know I could just make a list of story ideas and check them off as I complete them, but something happens when I get an idea and let it sit too long: it gets stale.

    Yep, this^.

    Sometimes if you don’t get the thought or paragraph or sentence down, you’ll lose it forever, and like you said, over time, some ideas get just lose their spark. Sometimes you need to capture what you can, when you can, or else sacrifice it to the ether.

    I’ve got a database in which I keep ideas in various stages. Writings coming due takes priority (or at least that’s what should happen), but for stuff that doesn’t have a specific deadline in mind, they happen as they may. I think as long as you are finishing works (even slowly) rather than just writing a thousand beginnings, then there’s no harm in there being more than one story in progress. And often working on one can feel like warm-up for working on another that takes more concentration.

    • It really is all about capturing what made the idea interesting to you in the first place. Often, I’ll see an image in my head and just describe it as much as I can. But even then, I risk losing the story behind that image. Does that make sense?

      I think you’re right about finishing things. I feel better now thinking about it–so long as stuff is getting done, we’re all okay! haha A warm up is definitely needed sometimes to dive into revisions. Often, I’ll work on a first draft of something for a bit, then jump into revising something older, which requires so much more brain power and focus.

  5. Wow, you are female me! I leap from one idea to another constantly. Lately though, I have been tricking myself as follows. The work I want to complete is my novel. So whenever I conjure an idea for a short story, I force myself to work it into the novel as a subplot or character piece.

    This doesn’t actually solve the problem but at least the novel is being served although the progress is decelerated somewhat.

    • It seems like a lot of writers have this problem, but you seem to have found a solution! That’s great incorporating your ideas into the novel. For me, I find that the ideas I get are not connected in anyway and to put an idea about a palm reader that harnesses too much power, for instance, in my sci-fi novel just doesn’t mesh well. Glad you found something that works for you though!

  6. Are you kidding? I’d love to read a story like that. Make the palm reader alien or some other force beyond our ability to comprehend. Ok, that’s pretty cliche.

    How bout using the palm reader as a backstory — he/she was killed in the past because they were essentially an anomaly. Humans excel at killing anomalies—Jesus, MLK, etc..

    You’ll make it work and, thousands of people will gather to build churches, oops..libraries in your name! You will be a LITERARY GOD.

    I love being over the top.

    • hehe I like your enthusiasm. I used the palm reader example because I wrote a draft of a story about one while working on my novel. Now I’m trying to slog through revisions on it and I want to kick the story the nads. It’s just not coming together. I could have put the palm reader in the sci-fi novel now that I think of it, but damnit if I didn’t go ahead and write the story anyway, so now it’s nagging at the back of my brain saying “Fix me! Make me work!” lol

      I could totally dig being a literary god, by the way.

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