Too Many Ideas Syndrome (TMIS)

Last night I dreamed about a movie.

It was one of my favourites because it is so brilliant – a fantasy movie with poignant main characters, and twisted plots which shocked and angered me. The antagonist was so cruel that I skipped ahead of some of the worse scenes. I never remember the name of the movie, but when I was dreaming the plot came back so easily. It was an old movie – think back to a time when you watched a TNT movie on that old six-channel STV box.

While I was dreaming I said to myself, “I need to look up the name of this movie because I keep forgetting what happens. It’s been a while since I watched it.”

So I wake up, yawn, and turn on the computer. I look out the window – it is a sunny Saturday yay! Now what do I have to do today again? I go on Facebook, check the emails, read a funny Cracked article (I love that site) and then I remember about the movie.

I open the Google search engine, and then I pause. I realise I have no idea what to google.

Then it hit me.

DAMMIT TO HELL (not the words I used) IT ISN’T A REAL MOVIE!


And the story is fading FAST.

I scramble to open a word document to write down all I can remember. I have been dreaming about this thing for years!

Unfortunately I can only remember about thirty per cent of what happens.

I am distraught right now for two reasons; one – I can’t remember everything that happened, and two – even if I did, I have too many current and unfinished projects to start yet another one.

My first blog post ever talked about the importance of having a dream journal, and so it seems fitting that the blog post which breaks my near two month hiatus is prompted by another dream.

I had attempted a blog post last week about why I haven’t posted anything in almost two months. I got distracted and never finished it. This problem has plagued me from the time I decided I wanted to write full-time; I have too many ideas.

I bore easily and I like to try new things ALL of the time. I can’t understand people who would do the same thing over and over again and be happy. For example, going to restaurants and ordering the same food, like chicken, because you know you won’t be disappointed.

This is why I previously wrote short films or TV episodes, because the idea of focusing on a story for 90+ mins was torture – albeit satisfying in the end. This is why I write short fiction; I make my point and I move on. I have three fully drafted novels (one complete first draft) that are really good stories, but at the moment I have just lost interest in them…because it is too many gatdamn words!

When I begin working on a project, I am so passionate about it at the beginning – I write like the paper is on fire. Somewhere along the way it becomes a chore and then the hard work begins. The words don’t flow, I get restless, the writing becomes painful and then my mind betrays me.

I get another idea for a brilliant short story, or another novel, or a movie, or a radio series, or a play or a TV series…you get my drift.  I write the idea down, and put it aside, all with the intention of getting to it later after I’ve completed my current project. But the idea haunts me…

I dream about it and I think about it all the time. Soon, I find myself jotting down notes that never seem to end, and before I know it – I’ve started another project.

The obvious advice is to focus.

Focus on one story. Try to forget the rest.

Set yourself a deadline for one project.

Manage your time.


It just does not work for me. Often times I feel so very overwhelmed by the ideas that I write nothing at all.

How do you deal with this? Do you work on one idea at a time? Multiple ideas at the same time? Feedback please!

11 thoughts on “Too Many Ideas Syndrome (TMIS)

  1. I have that same exact problem. Most times i start a project, get half way through quite well and either due to the words not flowing as I wish or just a sudden lack of interest, I stop. Then, as you say, I am haunted by the story so much that I HAVE to finish it. Happened to me already where I was putting of writing this story that kept playing over and over in my head so much that I just woke up, turned on my computer and did not stop to bath or eat till I had a first draft out. It felt like I had just given birth due to the effort it took not to be distracted (hey, a pony….) but I felt also satisfied. I agree with you, when you have started something its best to finish it. The story deserves that much.

  2. I usually work on two to three things at once. When I get stuck or bored with one I jump to the next thing in the list. I don’t add anything to the list until there is a free slot and the only way to get a free slot is to finish something. I find it helps to mix things up too. If you’re working on a short story make the next project a short film.

  3. I’ve been working on the same book (my first one) since last September. I’m on my second draft and it is going so slooooowly because revision is a million times harder than banging out a first draft. Even within the one stupid book, I suffer from TMIS because I’ll get distracted by the ways I wanted to rework a zillion different scenes while I’m trying to focus on revising a different one entirely. It’s so irritating.

    Mostly, what I do is keep forcing myself to focus, and if I absolutely can’t, then I either outline (my outline is ever-changing) or work on something else (short) for a while. I don’t think I have the ability to write more than one book at once.

    Also, hi! I’m following you now. 🙂

    • Hi Sarah! I’m following you too! 🙂

      I have this folder called “Stories to be completed” where I jot down ideas for new shorts. Sadly, it takes a while to move a story from the “to be completed” folder to “finished”.

      I just bought some Gingko Biloba. We’ll see if that helps me to focus. 🙂

      • Its incredible that even though we are each writers with completely different voices, that we still have similar traits. I too like to have a folder that i keep my unfinished work. I call it “Bits & Pieces”. I throw all my ideas into it, be it a paragraph, a full page or a line of dialogue. The great thing about this “well of ideas” as i like to call it, is that its never full and I realize that the ” Finished” folder is slowly being filled up as well. All it takes is time and patience (which I have none of lol)

      • I call my folder the “Idea Bank” and the notebook I walk around with is my “Book of Everything”.

      • One of my favourite book of short stoeirsWe had to read it for Literature in High School. I’ve just ordered a new copy and can’t wait to read it over again.A good book to read is A Bighter Sun’ by Samuel Selvon.

  4. Pingback: Interesting point of view… | Spider's Web

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