I know, this seems like one of those “nice problem to have” situations. It’s funny to think that, years ago, I used to struggle to come up with ideas for my fiction. I was under the mistaken impression that I had to wait for inspiration to come, for my muse to knock on the door and hand me something to write about. Eventually, I realized that ideas are everywhere and that I simply needed to open my eyes and my mind to notice them.
But now I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I’m almost overwhelmed by ideas. No, not all of them are gems. Most are like tiny nuggets of gold I’m finding in the stream of my unconscious mind. “Ooo, something shiny!” I see something flash and it catches my attention, so I pause and take a look. Might be something worth salvaging, so I make a note in my journal or I write up a couple of paragraphs and file it in my Potential Story Ideas folder. The folder it now getting a bit crowded and unwieldy.
It’s sort of like my book buying tendencies….I buy them faster than I can read them. Here, I have far more ideas than I could ever fully flesh out and turn into stories. But what can I do about it?
I end up feeling like an idea-hoarder. Stacks and stacks of old ideas in dusty boxes piled up in every corner and along every wall in my mind. Many are partially forgotten, things that occurred to me while I was drifting off to sleep or while stopped at a traffic light. I grab my phone and type out a note so I don’t forget…”…young woman finds unusual contraption in late uncle’s barn. Alien artifact? Weird invention?” then I save it to my idea folder as the car behind me honks because the light turned green two seconds ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’d much rather have too many ideas then none at all. It’s just that sometimes I think about them or take a peek in the folder on my hard drive and feel guilty. All these potential stories just sitting there, waiting for me to notice them, to have an “ah-ha!” moment and begin working them into a full draft. I know they aren’t judging me. At least, I hope not. But still, I feel like there’s just not enough time. It’s the same feeling I get when I think about all the books I want to read. I know I’ll never get to them all, so how do I choose which ones to read and which ones to save for later? Which ideas should I try to craft into a story and which ones need to be patient?
I feel confident that most writers are in a similar boat. We all have these ideas and fragments floating around in our heads, like little scraps of paper twisting and turning in the breeze. Over the years the number of scraps increases, more and more of then swirling in the wind and getting harder to keep track of.
I guess there’s nothing to be done about it. The ideas aren’t going to stop. There’s no way to catch up on the back log. Just keep logging them and adding them to the pile. Every once in a while grab a handful and do something with them. Rinse and repeat.
I just wish I didn’t feel the guilt, that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on opportunities, that I didn’t feel like there are good ideas going to waste. But I can’t turn them all into stories. I’d need an army of writers to do that, and hell, they probably have their own overloaded idea folders to content with.
But I’ll soldier on. I’ll write as many stories as I can, use as many of those ideas as possible. And when I die, well, I’ll bequeath them to some needy young writer. It’s the least I can do.