Shiny New Ideas

New ideas are shiny. They’re attractive and distracting and they always sound so good. But sometimes they’re not. Fools’ gold is shiny too.

When I get an idea for a new story, it can be tempting to drop whatever project I’m already working on to get started on the new one. But I get a lot of ideas. If I went after all of them, I would never finish anything. I would just keep starting new projects forever. Also, a lot of those ideas aren’t actually as good as I think they are when I first have them.

Whenever I get a new idea that I can’t stop thinking about, I write it down. Whatever line or scene or general plot idea that is distracting me gets written down so it’s out of my head and I can revisit it later. Sometimes I just have one idea waiting for me, sometimes I have a list of them.

Whenever I finish a project, I revisit that idea, or list of ideas, and read through them. At this point, some of those ideas have lost their appeal. Or, after some distance, I’ve realized they’re just not good ideas. They’re boring, they don’t work, they resemble something else too closely and I can’t figure out how to make it unique, or they’re not something I can develop into a full story. Those ideas get turned into something smaller sometimes, a drawing or a short comic. But this is when I go through the list and remove the ideas I plan to abandon, make a new list of ideas that will be something other than a full story, and select the idea I’m going to start working on next.

These new ideas, especially if there’s one you already know you want to work on and develop, are great motivation to finish the current work in progress. Finish the current project, get rewarded with the shiny new project.

For me, that’s usually enough. Knowing those ideas are written down somewhere safe so they’re not lost forever in my mind. Knowing the sooner I finish my revisions, the sooner I get to write a new draft. Sometimes it is good to take a break with something different so you can return to your project with fresh eyes. Just don’t abandon all your half-finished ideas forever.