Do Freelance Writers Ever Have Too Many Ideas? Ask Anne

by Anne Wayman

writing idea overwhelmHi Anne,

Does anyone else ever feel like they have so many ideas in their brain they get overwhelmed and just shut down completely?

I don’t think my problem is a fear of writing well, or not completely at least, but I do find myself starting ideas, getting parts of ideas down, but then my head just gets swamped with ideas and I go into a creative overload – almost like writers ADHD. I can never seem to really stick to something for long.

But I used to write all the time. I was the bookworm in highschool, either buried in my books, or developing my writers callus.

These days…I can barely seem to pick up my pen and get the ideas out of my head. I was wondering if anyone has any tips or advice or if they have experienced something similar to this.

I appreciate your advice. Thanks in advance.

PL in comments

Hi PL,

I went through something that may be similar in a class on profitability I’m taking. I have umpteen projects going and Molly Gordon, the instructor, kept quietly suggesting I pick one to work through in the class. I finally heard her and picked two – still not quite following instructions.

The other projects are on a list that keeps growing – it’s where I store my ideas as it were. I told myself I’d work on those two ideas the first two hours of every work day – those are my best hours. I’ve stuck with that pretty much for about 6 weeks now and it’s working well. I actually track how much time I’m spending on each using Toggle.

So my suggestion boils down to pick one or two things to work on and set an amount of time – 30 min., an hour, etc. Or even a whole day. When new ideas pop, write them down quickly and get back on task.

By the way, ADHD is real for many people and many people seem to benefit tremendously from medical/psychological treatment. If that really is the problem my suggestions probably won’t help much.

How do handle multiple ideas?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman Writing Coach

Coaching can help you sort out your ideas.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Unpublished Guy June 27, 2012 at 8:10 pm

When I am faced with many options, I flip a coin or find some other way of randomly avoiding a choice. This very method is the reason that I am now a proud owner of a Hippopotamus.

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annew June 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

And where do you keep her?

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Amandah June 25, 2012 at 5:23 am

Oops! I forgot to add that I too use Evernote. I’m still getting the hang of it, but it’s helped me to organize my writing/story ideas.

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Amandah June 25, 2012 at 5:22 am

Yes, I do have many ideas. I created a Writing Ideas folder, and I also write down my ideas in a notebook. I like to meditate on my ideas and follow my feelings and instinct as to which one is the best for me to focus on. If I focus on all of them at once, I become overwhelmed. :)
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annew June 25, 2012 at 10:11 am

Yes, I find writing the ideas down seems to get them out of my head and let’s me have more and to get some work done.

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Allena June 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm

ADHD may be more common in adults who choose careers such as writing, art, freelancing, entrepreneurship, as adults tend to learn how to deal with it, and one of the ways of mitigating its effects are to work on one’s own terms. That’s not to say the letter writer doesn’t need to pick a project, though! Same rules apply, just a different approach.
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annew June 25, 2012 at 10:06 am

I’ve heard that Allena…

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Carrie Schmeck June 22, 2012 at 8:41 am

Unrelated sort of: Does comment luv pick up our Google profiles? It never finds my recent posts so I’m wondering which link I should change…
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Carrie Schmeck June 22, 2012 at 8:38 am

I’m learning how to use Evernote better, using tags for article ideas (like business, parenting or lifestyle) and making notes (why was I thinking this was a good idea, what angle did I have in mind when I read it). Bunny trails are my enemy so with EN, I can clip and save, using it as my idea file for later. Helps me stay on track for current project while knowing my next/newest idea hasn’t been lost.
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annew June 22, 2012 at 10:39 am

Hmmm… I’ve got evernote but haven’t even tried it… maybe I will.

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