The Hummingbird Syndrome: Do you suffer from it?

Trollheart

Nothing Wicked This Way Comes...
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Messages
242
Location
I hang in the curtains and I sleep in your hat
I'm sure you know the sort of thing. You're working on a story/novel and suddenly an idea hits you for a different story. Do you then leave off your original project to tackle the new one? I know it's a lack of discipline and more than likely the wrong thing to do, and it's not as if I can't remember ideas and keep them in my head, even write them down, but often I feel if I don't get the actual story at least started, that I will lose the, for want of another word, feel for it. So I tend to hop, skip and jump all over the place, not necessarily ever getting nothing done, but definitely diverting my attention.

Tonight I was writing a story about a living space station when suddenly the phrase "You! Out! No fairies!" came into my head and now I'm writing an urban fantasy about fairies, elves, pixies etc being refused entry to a nightclub. It's kind of a loose collection of characters and stories (one of the others is called "Once Upon a Crime" - yes I like my puns) where fantasy characters and fairy tale creatures have found themselves in the real world. I just felt I had to start writing it while it was fresh in my mind. I'll get back to the space station thing tomorrow, but for today it's, um, fairies wear boots. Kind of.

Anyone else do this sort of thing, or am I an idiot for letting my attention be distracted this way?
 

sule

This Space for Lease
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
116
I think this sort of thing is very common, or at least I know I've experienced it. For me personally, it happens when I (either consciously or subconsciously) feel like I've hit a wall on the current project and need to take a step back and examine what isn't working or other times it's because I'm a bit overwhelmed by the current project and my subconscious is projecting to something that seems "easier" (not that I'm saying this is the case for you).

I don't think you should feel any qualms about following the thing that excites you the most at the moment; just because something "came first" doesn't mean that it should be the only thing you are allowed to focus on.
 

Trollheart

Nothing Wicked This Way Comes...
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Messages
242
Location
I hang in the curtains and I sleep in your hat
Yeah, you have it exactly. When I get a little bogged down, stuck or hell, even bored with what I'm doing, I often find my mind moving in different directions and, I guess to be fair, writing anything is better than writing nothing.
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
495
Location
Wales UK
Yes all the time, (but it never ever leads to elves and pixies!)
Recently while writing a novel I had an idea, sketched a few pages out and ended up writing a novella in the background while finishing the book
1. because I quite liked it, and
2. because, such is the nature of pantsing that once you create a 'situation' the subconscious keeps inventing more the darn thing, looking for resolution.
2a . I was stupid enough to end on a cliffhanger so Now we are 20 pages into part 2!
But it will be polished and be a 'runner, it was not a mere distraction.
I think you develop a kind of radar and very early you intuit whether a passing idea has the legs to get to a finish or goes into the (large) false starts folder :)
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Supporter
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
4,463
Location
Edinburgh
Yeah, you have it exactly. When I get a little bogged down, stuck or hell, even bored with what I'm doing, I often find my mind moving in different directions and, I guess to be fair, writing anything is better than writing nothing.
But ultimately for a writer, finishing something is better than finishing nothing. ;) :)

However, hell, I have no problems getting new ideas when working on something else. I think even taking 'a break' for a few hours/day might help, especiall when you are in a very long project. Write the new idea down and stick it in a folder, to let it mature and grow.

But I think it's good to focus on finishing what's on your plate first.
 

ginny

registered bibliophile
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
118
There is such a thing as taking notes:
putting them off to the side:
continuing on to hopefully the completion of one task:
before you start the next.

Pick up note later: read:"Pfft...what was I thinking."
 

Ori Vandewalle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2020
Messages
141
Location
Greenbelt, MD
Yeah, this has certainly happened to me. Depends on where I am in a project as to what I do about it. If I'm deep in the middle of something, I may furiously scribble some notes on the new thing so I don't forget and then get back to it eventually. If I'm still in the early stages, oftentimes I end up trying to incorporate the new thing into my WIP.
 

Mad Alice

From Earth; Mad House of the Universe
Joined
Jun 23, 2015
Messages
882
Sometimes your muse takes a backroad.
I find this happens more when I am not working at a balance creatively.
Yes you can reign your inspirations in, but I find if you run with them while the ideas are simmering up then you get better action and more resonant prose.
 

jbmwriting

lover of space operas
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
18
The process of writing a book is pretty daunting for me, so I've forced myself to stay focused so far. I don't have too much time to devote to writing so if I start a half-dozen projects then none of them would get finished.
 

Guttersnipe

logolept
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
326
Location
Limbo
I have thrice as many one-paragraph drafts than I do completed stories. Even more are hastily planned ones that I feel are too boring or difficult to write.
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
5,254
I think this is one of those techniques that they don't cover in the how-to-write books.

My own method is to wait. There are ideas that are inevitably going to be central to a story, ideas that might come into that story, and ideas that seem good at the time but are best thrown out. If you make a note and hold back, even a couple of weeks but preferably longer, the excitement of the new idea fades or at least settles down a bit, and you get a better idea of whether and how to incorporate it.

I've found that, by waiting, the urge to just repeat what you've seen and liked fades. Instead of thinking "Robots are awesome! Let's put robots in!" you either decide that this story doesn't need robots, or end up thinking "Yes, but I'll do it my way". And that, I think, raises the chances of producing something that's original and interesting.
 

DLCroix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
128
Hello, Trollheart. I am a designer, and something I learned in Advertising is the concentration of efforts. The same thing happens with brands, and it's just my opinion, but if you really think you have something powerful, you should focus on it. This comes from the old Positioning Theory. Applied to Literature, the defect of the expansion of brands that is criticized in marketing would be precisely aiming at too many objectives at once. This weakens and disorients the brain itself; let's not forget that there is a creative process behind it.
Because, suppose the brain is a blender; then it is easy to suppose that the result of preparing an Alexander and a Daikiri at the same time is quite unpredictable. It can be good, it can be bad, who knows?:giggle:

I think this sort of thing is very common, or at least I know I've experienced it.
It is inevitable that something like this will happen, of course. But one can also learn to discipline the mind. For example, if you have a block, I would recommend that you take a note of some other idea that might come your way. But just that.

writing anything is better than writing nothing.
You can swell the name database, for example. At some point they will serve you.

Yes, that's another important point. Let's see, it is true that I defend that if possible one should try to focus. But, and in this Astro Pen is quite right, I think you should think of the unconscious as if it were a child. I mean, not everything he say to your ear with so much enthusiasm will do later. But it is good, as I said before, to take note and that's it, it was written somewhere. Because otherwise I think a certain neuronal dysfunction occurs. In short, the muse is angry because you did not take their advice into account. Now, another thing is that you open a second project when you already have one in process. At least I can't, and I sincerely admire those who have the gift of handling multiple things at once.:giggle:
 

DLCroix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
128
I have thrice as many one-paragraph drafts than I do completed stories. Even more are hastily planned ones that I feel are too boring or difficult to write.
Yes, that happens frequently. Because the brain sometimes gives you sequences that, although they do not have to do with the current chapter you are writing, at least they are part of some future scene. In that case you have to do the same as in the notes procedure, write everything that the muse dictates without worrying about the wording or grammar and once the pretty one finishes dictating to you, continue with what you were.
 

Trollheart

Nothing Wicked This Way Comes...
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Messages
242
Location
I hang in the curtains and I sleep in your hat
You can swell the name database, for example. At some point they will serve you.
Um, thanks. I don't understand this sentence though.

As for multiple projects, hey, it works for me. Yes, I've got about a half-dozen unfinished but at least reasonably well-started projects on the go, and it may take some time to finish them all (if I ever do) but without doing what I did, starting off the project and filling out its bones as it were, I believe I might not necessarily have forgotten the ideas but lost the actual feel for them that I had when I thought of them. Sometimes it's also a case of carpe diem, or carpe idea (or whatever the Latin is for idea): that when inspiration strikes, it's best not to ignore it or push it to the side. You spoke of the Muse being angry because you don't take her advice, and tbh I don't know whether you're saying that advice is "go for the new project" or "stay the course", but I feel that if she's poking me with a stick to say "hey I just had this great idea!" it might be seen as rude and wrong not to at least explore it. I'm not, sadly, a professional writer and I have no calls on my time, writing-wise, so I can put one project back a while as I work on another. Like I say, works for me, may not work for everyone.
 

DLCroix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
128
Hi, Trollheart.
The database that I refer to is all the documentation that one invents for a certain story. It is attached material that you consult. Something like cards with names of characters, notes, etc.
Now, as for the muse, I mean the neural process. I personally believe that the brain creates connections as it learns, and learning depends on the positive or negative stimuli it receives. Based on that, the brain determines if a process is valid. So I think it is wrong to ignore the sparks of inspiration. Because the brain gave you a result, and if you reject it or ignore it, it would think that the process is not valid. Then we have the case of an angry muse, closed like a museum oyster. So to keep the girl happy is that I have separate text files with all those sparks. I suppose at some point they will work.
 

msstice

200 words a day = 1 novel/year
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
30
I write down these ideas in an ideas folder. It is true it can turn into an avenue for procrastination.
 

DLCroix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
128
You couldn't be more right, msstice. What's more, I think we could have a mega-file in the resources with donations of all the names, ideas, arguments discarded, etc. A general purpose fund available to someone looking for material. I don't know, it's something that occurs to me now. (Not that I'm smoking anything strange, ok?)
 

Laura R Hepworth

Lady of the Rings (chainmaille rings that is)
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
142
Location
Standish, Michigan
Marginally, but not terribly so. It depends on if the story I'm presently working on is moving along well or is really fighting me to write. I had three other writing projects before the one I'm presently concentrating on, but then the idea of my main project came to me while going through a difficult time at my old job and I set the other projects aside for this one. I've had other ideas since, but I'm now dedicated enough to this one to not veer off again. I do, however, make sure to jot down all new ideas so I can come back to them once this project is completed.
 
Top