Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Secrets of Kidlit: The Shiny New Idea

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Credit: avrdreamer
Ever sit down to work on your current manuscript, only to find yourself completely distracted by a Shiny New Idea? I'm the first to admit how hard it is to stay focused on one story for the length of time it takes to complete a draft. I used to have a terrible habit of abandoning drafts halfway through in pursuit of Shiny New Ideas . . . until I figured out I'd never finish anything if I kept that up!

So I thought I'd devote today to giving you a few ideas on how to combat distraction and stay focused. The key with all of these suggestions is to get the idea out of your head quickly so that first, you don't lose the idea, and second, you can focus on what you should be finishing. You can either take a day or two to do one of these things, or use them as a reward for completing your daily goals on your current manuscript.

In no particular order, here are some things I've done:

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Credit: antefixus21
1) Write a synopsis. Okay, yeah, synopses are horrible awful things. But when I say synopsis, I don't mean something you're going to whip out and show an agent. When all you can think about is your fabulous new idea, taking a day or two to pour all those thoughts into a messy synopsis can do wonders for your brain. Think of it more as a bucket for all those snippets of dialogue, scene ideas, or character quirks that keep running through your head. And it doesn't have to be synopsis-style. Make it an outline, or a series of notes, or whatever makes the most sense to you. Just get it down so it's no longer in your head.

2) Make a Pinterest board. This is perfect if you're already visualizing scenes in your head. There are so many ways to do a Pinterest board, so go with what works for you, whether it's a mood you'd like to portray, a collection of faces that look like your characters, or images of places or items that might play a role in the story.

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Credit: Anne Helmond
3) Make a playlist. No lie, this is one of my favorites. I derive so much joy out of finding the perfect music for a story idea. Like Pinterest, you can go about this so many different ways -- mood, style of music, lyrics. A good playlist can serve as a trigger of sorts, putting you instantly into the mood of your story, which is great when you can't even start to write said story until you finish another one!

4) Research. If your new idea will need some research, now is a great time to dive into that. Not only will it help you plot this new book later on, it's good to get it out of the way now to free you up for writing later.

5) Go ahead, write a little! BUT (and this is a big but!) don't write on this new idea until you've finished whatever your daily goal is for the manuscript you should be working on. This can be a great reward! Some people can't write two books at once (um, me), but if you can, go for it!

As a bonus, a lot of these ideas will help you plot! Do you have any other tactics for staying focused? If so, drop them in the comments.

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