On Tuesday afternoon, I came down with a terrible, terrible illness. Shiny-new-idea-itis. (As I’m sure y’all guessed from the title.) This disease can strike at any time, but don’t worry, it is neither fatal nor contagious.
Symptoms of shiny-new-idea-itis include (but are not limited to):
- Daydreaming about an exciting new story and characters
- Difficulty sleeping due to said daydreaming
- Compulsive need/desire to share new idea with writing friends, paired with debilitating fear of their reaction
- “What are you doing?! You’re supposed to be working on that other story!”
- Or worse: “Hmm yeah, I like that. And it sounds so much better than what you’re currently working on.”
- Extremely productive writing session (e.g. 1300 words in 2 hours)
- Guilt over abandoning current manuscript
- NOT that you are abandoning it!
- You’re just… taking a break, a brief detour. You’ll get right back on track tomorrow! You just need to get this all down so you won’t forget it.
This malaise seems to strike most often when a writer has made significant progress on their work-in-progress (e.g. 20-30k words). Experts speculate that this may have to do with the high output of the creative brain/imagination during the drafting process; it is so engaged that it almost cannot help itself. One work simply isn’t enough. It must have MOAR!
Other experts hypothesize that this sickness simply arises from a combination of a writer’s fear, frustration, and fickleness, again most often culminating at a certain point in the process (e.g. 20-30k words).
Both groups believe that overcoming shiny-new-idea-itis is critical to the health and wellbeing of not only the writer, but also the writer’s work.
Remedies for shiny-new-idea-itis include (but are not limited to):
- Getting it all down so you won’t forget it, and then moving on
- Telling your boyfriend, whose frustration (and concern that you’re losing focus) will instantly deflate you
- Taking a nap/getting a good night’s rest
The good news is, I tried all 3 remedies in combination, and I appear to be making a recovery. Furthermore, I now have another fun story idea to add to my (omgsoverylong!) queue. And now that shiny-new-idea-itis is (mostly) out of my system, I find myself missing my current manuscript and its hilariously naive-but-she-thinks-she-knows-it-all protagonist.