You know the feeling.
You’re cruising through your work-in-progress, happily caught up in whatever’s happening on the page. The characters are alive and active. The plot is engaging and exciting. Things couldn’t be going better.
Then it happens.
A random thought leads to a ‘what if’ question. Just that fast, your imagination makes a sharp turn and takes off.
You can’t get the thought out of your mind. Try what you will, it persists, taking your work-in-progress hostage as it grows from the mere germ of an idea to a many-tentacled beast demanding immediate attention. What do you do?
First of all, don’t panic.
But don’t ignore that raving beast either.
Take a minute to step away from the work-in-progress. You probably need the break anyway.
Jot down the idea on a fresh piece of paper or in a new digital document. Record a few lines of summary or description. Whatever’s in your mind.
Don’t forget to record whatever sparked the thought in the first place. Include something likely to prompt your memory later. This is especially important if the new idea hinges on something in the work-in-progress. It could be the next book in the series and you’ll want to remember how they connect.
Then file it. That’s right. Just file it. Tuck it out of sight for future reference and then forget about it.
You can’t keep distracting, potentially bestseller ideas from popping up now and again. They will knock at the door of your imagination.
It’s probably wise to let them in at least long enough to get their vital statistics.
But don’t let them stay long enough to take over your work!
Recording them not only saves them for later, when you might need that nugget of literary genius to get a new story started.
Knowing the idea has been recorded also allows your mind to turn away from the immediate distraction and get back to work.