You hear a lot about writer’s block, but I’ve never heard anyone mention what I’m suffering from.
This is not the first time I’ve had this problem, but it still took a bit to realize what is happening, and I’m determined to come up with a better solution this time.
So what it writer’s flood you ask?
Well, it is the polar opposite of writer’s block. It is when the muse offers so many ideas, each unique, fascinating, and unrelated, that the writer is too overwhelmed to do anything.
In the past two months, I’ve conceived of two novels, three short stories, and one flash that I can remember. They span the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres at the moment. It might not sound like much, but these are all active ideas that push and shove their way to the front so none gets enough time to crystallize into anything worthwhile. The concentration required to get any of them down in usable form is immense, and the inability to focus is overwhelming.
The last time this happened, I told my muse I was done. I couldn’t process things fast enough for her, so I said, “You keep all your ideas until they’re solid and fully formed. When they’re ready for me to do something with them, then you can tell me.”
This went over about as well as you might have imagined. In all reality, it worked just as I had hoped. The ideas I got were solid, complete, and workable. I only got ideas when I was ready for them, and I didn’t miss out on something fabulous, or if I did, I didn’t know about it so couldn’t mourn the loss.
Sounds just about perfect, doesn’t it?
What that doesn’t show is the agonizing feeling that my idea tap had dried up. Even though the ideas were there and I was writing huge amounts of material, in my heart I knew something was broken. I dreaded the moment that I reached the end of each novel because there was no guarantee that another idea would be waiting for me. And with the Story a Day challenge I do each May, I was always one step behind where I wanted to be. That should be interesting this year for sure :).
So, I’ve been doing a lot of work trying to open lines of communication with my muse, to let a little bit of the play back in. The results have been a bit mixed, with a lot of ideas that were a little too odd for my tastes but which I’ve dutifully tucked away for when they’re needed. My muse gave them to me for a reason. And Megan (yep, thanks to a writing buddy, she even has a name) has shown no restraint when it comes to ideas that I have already worked on but which are currently languishing in my edit pile. I’m haunted by new ideas, but I’m also haunted by the old ones, both short works and full novels, all crying out to be given a chance to shine.
Now that’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I have. A scrap here, a note there, all scattered and on so many different things that nothing has gotten finished. This is not my normal multitasking. This is a side effect of the overwhelm.
The good news is that a problem recognized is half way to being resolved. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about the flood, how I’m going to manage it to avoid the overwhelm, but now that I know what’s going on, I’m not going to let the lack of focus win. I’m choosing one task at a time (well, one project per scheduled time) and I’m going to start making some progress :).
So what’s on the plate right now?
I have a short story that I sent through OWW a while back which needs some triage. I put in about 400 words of a new beginning this morning, and have to integrate that with the rest and finish the edit.
At the same time, I’m taking an older novel with a lot of issues (The Queen’s Return) through Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel class. It’s not that I can’t revise. I’ve taken many a first draft through the process and ended up with a successful novel. It’s more that I want to become efficient at it. If you’re curious, here’s the link to the class information: How to Revise a Novel.
Other than those, I want to get back to writing a short story inspired by a pipe organ concert at a church in downtown Reno, and then I’m tackling a hard SF short story inspired by quantum physics. I’m also reading feedback on Demon Rules, a MG fantasy, and contemplating how to tackle that one.
My question to you is: have you ever suffered from writer’s flood…and how do you manage it?