Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Burning Brain

I subscribe to a few magazines geared towards writers, one of them being Writer's Digest. The recent issue was quite valuable to me for it addressed a problem I've had ever since I started writing as a wee thing: too many ideas at once.

Many writers would not see having too many ideas at once being a significant problem.

It is.

Too many ideas burning the brain for crafting and expulsion is as bad as having writer's block. You become paralyzed because you do not know which direction to move into next or you spend a lot of time trying to make sense of all the ideas, many of them vastly different from each other, and see how it all fits together.

It doesn't all fit together, that't the first lesson. It doesn't all have to fit together to be useful. I have experimented with various software packages geared towards writers in order to find a way to capture the quicksilver thoughts that inconveniently come to me when I am working on something else. I keep several writing projects open at a time as I work better this way and, oddly enough, get more done.

Last night I experimented a bit with two software packages - one called "Writer Blocks" and the other an index card system designed for the computer. The Writer Blocks assists with keeping consistency in a story and a working outline. The index card software can be used to type ideas as they come to you and be placed with the material the idea belongs with. I find the act of putting an idea in a certain place helps get it out of my head for the moment without fear of using it and without it interferring with what I am doing at tha time. So far, this combined system seems to be working quite well. I had great fun with it last night. I even backed up the system to ensure that nothing gets lost in a computer crash.

I am working on the third draft of a novel a literary agent is waiting to read. she's been waiting for about five years but she is still willing to ready what I write.

I am working on what's called a chapbook of poems entitled Breaking Bones, Mending Souls which is autobiographical. This project has been the most challenging and enjoyable.

I started a series of short stories based on real life accounts of ghostly doings. This has been a ton of fun.

Finally, a screenplay I am working on with Kay about the Jersey Devil legend. We have a fantasic idea and started fleshing it out. We need to visit the Jersey pinelands again for the sole purpose of soaking up the feel of the place and maybe collecting more stories/accounts about this myth. It's my first collaborative effort since working with Jonathan Frid on developing the narrations for his one-man shows.

It's great to have these ideas and strategies for appropriately dealing with them instead of, as the article in the writer's magazine pointed out, trying to fit every single idea into the current writing project only because it is a good idea you don't want to lose.

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