A Brain Full of Stories

I’m curious if there are others like me who have an ever expanding story idea collection. I can’t help it. All the time I see something or read something that gives me an idea for what I’m either currently writing or a whole new idea altogether.

I tend to work on several writing projects interchangeably. It’s just how my mind works. I have trouble focusing solely on a single project without getting inspiration on others at the same time. I do find there is always one story that is predominantly my main focus, but the others are always there on the edges of my mind slowly tumbling in my subconscious as I work through whatever plot threads I’m trying to weave together.

To that point, I have a few stories within the same project that focus on different characters. At the moment short stories I hope to expand into a wider project. For a while now I’ve been treating them all as separate individual story threads. But recently I had the brainstorm (I’m not sure why it took me so long to come to this idea) to figure out how these threads could be braided together or at least figure out where they all fit in the grand timeline of the overall world I’ve been building for nearly a decade. I think I finally stopped thinking of them as isolated self-contained plots and realized that, yes, they are all in the same story world and, yes, they do each have events that are linked from one to the other. Not every thread links to every other mind you, but one links to another which then links to two more and so on.
—The stories for each character all happen after a major story arc from the core story which then split the cast of characters. I was exploring what happened to each character in the time before they find their way back to each other again, which spanned a few year in story time.

So…
Two questions, (1) Do you focus on only one or many stories at a time; on occasion rotating your main focus? I find OneNote from Microsoft helps a lot in keeping my scatterplot of a writing mind organized. And (2) have you had an ‘ah-ha!’ moment in your writing that you feel makes so much sense that you’re surprised you didn’t think of it earlier?

12 Likes
  1. Let’s see… Well, I have 48 stories (some novel-length, some short stories, some short story collections, some novellas) listed on my fanfiction page as part of the universe I’m rewriting. I’ve finished 16 of them, and I’m in the middle of 3. In addition to this, I’m fine-tuning my MG manuscript, writing an adult fiction manuscript, and editing work for friends. So, yes, I work on lots of things at once. My fanfiction update schedule rotates. I update a chapter or two in one story, then rotate to the next one, etc.

With a full time day job (for now), when I get home, I choose to work on whatever’s most pressing. If I don’t have any deadlines looming, I dive into whatever I’m most excited about that day or have been thinking about most recently.

I’ve had files for my work since I was about twelve. They’re organized on my desktop computer in order by story. My husband got me a Streamdeck a few years ago too, and it’s been wonderful for organization and quick-access to websites and files I frequent.

  1. All. The. Time.
3 Likes

Yes, I collect story ideas all the time, and I also thought they were all separate stories. I tried using One Note to keep track of them, but finally decided it was too much trouble and just kept the ideas in separate folders on my computer under a heading called Stories. As time went all I added details, and also, of course, keep adding new story idea folders…

Then I got Plottr and for two stories I knew were going to be in a series, I started plotting the series (the story question, value changes, and opening and closing for each book). Then I wanted more books in the series! For a moment I hit a blank wall. Then it dawned on me maybe some of the other story ideas I’d been collecting could become books in this series. This kind of sounds like what happened to you.

I pulled ideas together to create a second series and then a third. Now I only have only a few story ideas that are just sitting in folders, and I have a series plan for three different series that each has four books. I’m so excited to be finally planning “real” books instead of just continuing to collect story idea!

I also work somewhat like you in that I move from story to story depending on what is energizing me. If I hit a blank on one story, I just move to another. I find if I keep asking myself questions, the answers will slowly come. So I end up working on several books at one time.

I like Plottr for keeping track of all this. My biggest problem used to be finding what I needed when I went back to a certain story. Now with everything in Plottr, I just open that story and there is everything I need. It’s really nice to “see” the visual of the story, instead of having to “read” through my notes to remember what I had in mind.

5 Likes

I love this thread! Yes, I have dozens of story ideas all at once and scrap books full of stories and plot ideas.

4 Likes

Absolutely! :rabbit2: :hedgehog: :rabbit2: :hedgehog: :rabbit2: There are always plot bunnies and random hedgehogs to feed!

To answer your questions…
(1) I try to plot, write, and edit one story at a time, but if I do have a good idea I’ll write it down (and then get back to my planned creative things).

(2) Yes, that “ah-ha!” moment usually comes while writing and after plotting (oh, so that’s how that happens!) or sometimes after the first draft and during editing (oooooh yeah, if I move this here and that there, then it’ll be so much better. Why didn’t I think of that before?)

Glad to see there are other brain full of stories people out there!

5 Likes

This would be my answer, too. :slight_smile:

My head or subconscious is full of stories. I get ideas all the time. Some of the ideas excite me. Others I hardly understand. I write most of them down. I think most ideas can be transformed into a powerful or at least a compelling story. Some take longer to create which isn’t really a bad thing.

2 Likes

Thank You for starting this thread (and to all who have responded in similar vein)! … All this while, here I was thinking I was a lone freak. Why can’t I just focus on one thing at a time? Recently a new writing buddy told me that:

Writing, anything, everyday is great exercise for our writing muscles.

So just do it, she said. —This helped me overcome the ‘Am I haphazard wreck?’ concern. And knowing there’re more of ‘us’ out there further helps to stop stressing over it. So again, thanks.

(1) Do you focus on only one or many stories at a time; on occasion rotating your main focus? - Guilty! It is difficult sometimes to zoom in and out where the works have different themes and tones.
Still, I do it because oftentimes the next part just wants more stewing on (the dough needs proving), wants more of (2) i.e. those ‘a-ha!’ moments still lurking around a corner.
When I’m stuck with one (hating how it sounds, something’s missing, it’s not quite right, etc.) progress at the same time on another project helps keep up the momentum and positivity; and gives me the strength to deal with the issues on the other one/s.
But on the point of working on what appear to be disparate projects, I’ve read as well that the author, Ishiguro Kazuo says of himself that he keeps writing the same book (‘story’) over and over, only in different forms. I take this to mean that he has recurring themes which he conveys in different story plots (and very well).

(2) have you had an ‘ah-ha!’ moment - So wonderful when they happen. Something tells me they don’t occur out of nowhere though.

Happy writing!

1 Like

Sorry, it would be amiss of me as well, when quoting the Nobel Laureate in Literature, not to mention that he didn’t also drop everything in his day-to-day to complete his winning novel, The Remains of the Day in 4 weeks (working literally, non-stop from 9 AM - past 10PM each day & night). He says of his ‘Crash’ —

'… In this way, so we hoped, I’d not only complete more work quantitively, but reach a mental state in which my fictional world was more real to me than the actual one. . . . This, fundamentally, was how The Remains of the Day was written. Throughout the Crash, I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere—I let them remain and ploughed on.

—from “How I Wrote The Remains of the Day in Four Weeks,” as published in The Guardian; and
—from Emily Temple’s Nov 8, 2017 piece in LitHub

1 Like

To paraphrase a saying that was printed on the side of a tote bag that I bought my wife, an avid knitter, “So many story ideas, so little time to write.” The actual saying was “So much yarn, so little time to knit.” As for “ah ha” moments, I’ve had more of them then I can shake a stick at.

1 Like

OGM! Yes, I’ve so many ideas some are more well-defined than others. Just like you, I read something or hear something, and my mind starts imaging, I just can’t help it.

I am not able to work on several projects at the same time. I get obsessed with the project I’m currently working on I really don’t have the energy to focus on something else.

‘Ah-ha’ moment. Yes, it happens a lot of times. I always feel like a stupid for not having seen it sooner. :sweat_smile:

2 Likes