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Writer's Block Help for Those Who Have Too Many Ideas

Updated on January 1, 2016
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Heidi Thorne is a self publishing expert, author of 21 (and counting!) business books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

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In his post, Finding Story Ideas from Real Life, writer Bill Holland (aka "billybuc") offered a wealth of inspiration sources for writers. In the comments section, a number of the writers noted that they had too many ideas and that inspiration was not a problem. This is the opposite problem to writer's block. Call it writer's burst!

While it's always good to have more ideas than needed, having too many can lead to the following writing problems:

  • Analyze or Paralyze? Is it a good idea? Feeling that many of the article ideas may not have merit, writers can overanalyze the viability of any one of them... or even all of them! The result is the same as with writer's block: No writing gets done.
  • Half Baked and Half Done. Another problem is pursuing all ideas, often all at the same time. This results in dozens (hundreds?) of half developed ideas and half done articles. The other result is that a writer can feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of articles before him, sometimes giving up on all of them. Again, same result as writer's block: No writing gets done.

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Questions to Help Evaluate Writing Ideas

So how can a writer overcome writer's block, become a good editor and pursue writing projects of greatest value? These questions can help:

  1. Does this idea align with the subject(s) for which I have greatest expertise and recognition? Sure, it's good to stretch and venture into new territory. But how far off the normal path is this? If it will cause confusion for followers or new readers, ditch the idea. Alternatively, find a way to connect a random idea with typical topics. This can make for some very interesting and creative work.
  2. Does this idea help me build my writing business? If the goal is to become a paid writer, articles on scattered subjects don't present a cohesive body of work that clients want to see.
  3. Can several of these ideas blend together into one? Sometimes writers' brain bursts are embryonic ideas trying to connect and grow. Look over the list of random ideas and see how they could connect.
  4. Is there a market for this idea? The list of possible article, report and book topics is almost infinite. But if the goal of writing is to generate Internet traffic or sales, the idea needs a significant amount of monthly searches in target markets. Using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool is invaluable in doing this type of filtering. A case can be made for "long-tail" keywords with low occurrence if this minimal market ties in with larger writing objectives. Learn how being too unique can kill sales.

These questions can also be used when evaluating whether to pursue guest blogging opportunities. Unfortunately, many guest posts are unpaid. If the blog, website or publication does not align with a writer's need to build a relevant portfolio or his business, pursuing too many guest posts can rob a writer of time and profits.

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Tools for Tracking and Evaluating Writing Ideas

What can writers use to track and evaluate ideas as these bursts of inspiration hit? Some are high tech, others old school. The actual tools used don't matter. What matters is that they are actually used.

  • Notebooks and Pens. Truly old school! Yet there are writers that find them more conducive to the creative process than gadgets and computers. Separate notebooks can also be used for different topics. Best feature is that they don't require batteries or power and can be used in a wide variety of inspirational settings. Plus, notebooks can often be recycled! Keeping one next to one's bed at night is perfect for those middle of the night brain bursts.
  • Voice Recorders/Software. Voice recorders make it easy to capture ideas even while driving, but they do require transcription. Luckily there are services online which can transcribe these recordings for a fee. But even better is to use software or a mobile app, such as Dragon Dictation, which types while you talk. Then it's merely a task of organizing the transcribed files for access and evaluation later.
  • Spreadsheets. Using a program such as Microsoft Excel, ideas can be entered into a searchable spreadsheet. Ideas can be alphabetized, tagged and organized for easy reference when the writer's burst turns into writer's block and an idea needs to be found.
  • Organizational Software/Apps. Programs such as Evernote can help organize those overflowing streams of ideas into categories for easy reference later.

Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2013 Heidi Thorne

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    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 5 months ago from Chicago Area

      Catherine, don't you love it when ideas actually speak (scream?) to you? :) I have to admit I'm totally old school when it comes to ideas, too. Notebooks are always around me. Also have an iPad loaded with notes and drafts, too. I let the ideas brew a while resting in their notebook or iPad homes. Then, like you, one will just eventually be the right one for right now. Thanks for sharing your writing experience with us! Happy Easter Weekend!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 5 months ago from Orlando Florida

      This is great advice. I'm still doing things the old-fashioned way--writing ideas down in a notebook. I always have too many ideas. Sometimes I feel frustrated because I don't have enough time to develop all of them. But I follow the attitude I learned during my business career. Pick one thing and focus on that. I pick the idea that is foremost in my thoughts. Sometimes it feels like the idea is screaming, "Write Me Now." That's the one I write.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi DzyMsLizzy! I'd be honored to have you link to my hub! And you and I both seem to slip into the "over analyzer" mode. Thank you so very much for your comments and support! Have a beautiful day!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Great ideas, and a very common problem you've addressed here. I tend to be one of those "over-analyzers." It can cause just as much stagnation as no ideas at all.

      If it's okay with you, I'd like to link your article to mine on exercises to break through writer's block.

      Voted up +++ shared and pinned.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks, the rawspirit! We writers have to share our experiences to help each other. And I'm glad I've been able to help you in some way. Enjoy the weekend!

    • the rawspirit profile image

      Robert Morgan 2 years ago from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Scottsdale AZ

      Another winner... have learned more about writing and publishing than I could have imagined. Thanks for doing such fine work. Blessings.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hello Suhail and my dog! Even though you might not have writer's burst on a regular basis, it sounds like you've experienced to some degree a few months ago. And putting them in a draft/inactive mode until they're ready for development is a good way to keep those ideas from slipping away. I have about three of them sitting in my inactive pile as I'm writing this. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience! Have a beautiful day, especially now that spring is coming our way! :)

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Writer's burst? Hahaha. I loved that phrase. Very apt indeed.

      This is a short and to the point hub that I liked a lot.

      Since I write in a narrow niche (hiking with dog, enjoying nature, and sharing some scientific facts along the way), I don't think I am going to be blessed with writer's burst ever. But I do get an idea every other month that entices me to build an article on. I hope it continues.

      Btw, if I have too many ideas, which happened few months ago, I started writing on all of them and then chose the one I felt most elated about. The others are still in my inactive hubs.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi alexadry! Thanks for the kind comments and glad to see I have company in the "too many ideas" group. :) Have a terrific day!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      This was a great read and your hubs on marketing are impressive. I too have felt overwhelmed by too many choices at times, it takes a bit to narrow down things. Voted up and useful.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Kristen! I suffer from the same TMI malady. It's really frustrating when I have a lot of other projects already in the works. I want to pursue them all. :) Glad to see I have company. Thanks for chiming in and have a wonderful weekend!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Clever ideas, Heidi. Other than editing, I hate having the TMI syndrome of too many ideas in my head. For six months or so, I've been having the opposite of having no ideas to write fiction at this moment. I believe the switch have been turned off for fiction and on for nonfiction. Helpful tips, too. Voted up!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Donna! Though I use voice recording rarely, you should see all the Excel spreadsheets (and some Word docs) of ideas I have going on. :) Then there's the Post-It notes... Anyway, thanks for reading and chiming in! Have a great day!

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      Donna Cook 2 years ago

      Hi Heidi, Thanks for great ideas to organize ideas! I use the voice recorder on my phone and Excel on the computer. I don't trust the cloud so I haven't used Evernote. If I ever upgrade Office, I'll use OneNote. Love that bit of software to pieces.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi ThatMommyBlogger! I have a similar problem, except that I'm stuck (pun intended) on using Post-It notes. :) Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

    • ThatMommyBlogger profile image

      Missy 3 years ago from The Midwest

      LOL I have this problem! The drawer next to my desk is filled with half-written articles, keyword ideas, and random projects that I might want to start one day. Good tips!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hello imtii! You and me both! In fact even this weekend I have a whole bunch of ideas I'm trying to sort out. But some of the best are bubbling to the top. Thanks for reading and commenting! Have a great weekend!

    • imtii profile image

      Imtiaz Ahmed 3 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      heidithorne you just shared the things I have in common. Sometimes I feel helpless cause too many "Ideas" which one will be the best?? Which one will be attractive? no idea on that! :P

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hello ChitrangadaSharan! I think all of us here on HubPages often suffer from too many ideas. :) Thanks for stopping by and kind comments! Have a lovely day!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I agree with you that there are times when writers have too many ideas going on in the mind. And it becomes difficult to decide, which one to pen down. This happens with me also. Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions.

      Very useful and interesting hub!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hello MarleneB! Yes, indeed, sticking to a niche is an excellent strategy for filtering when one has the "too many ideas" problem. I've used that mindset myself to keep me from veering off track. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Your ideas are truly wonderful. I have found the most success in finding a niche and sticking to that one niche. Occasionally, I veer away from the niche, but only to write about a topic that is personal and gives readers an insight to who I am as a person. That actually seems to add to my credibility in the niche I've chosen.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hello, rajan jolly! Sometimes it's so hard to decide which of the many ideas floating in our heads are worth pursuing. Happens more often for me than have too few. Thanks so much for commenting, voting and sharing. Have a lovely day!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      You are right sometimes there is the problem of too many ideas and this leads to writer's block not knowing which one to choose to write about.

      Great tips.

      Voted up and shared.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      I feel the same way, Elizabeth/epbooks! Crossing out items on a list, whether it be ideas or To Dos, always give me a "Yay, I finished it" rush, too. Happy Weekend!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi, btrbell! Sometimes I grab all manner of paper to scribble on, too. I've tried to use the Dragon app on my phone and it works perfectly. But my best notes are still on good ol' paper. I also hope we don't run out of ideas. :) Thanks for stopping by & have a great weekend!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Even with all of the technology today, I still love writing my initial ideas in a traditional notebook. It gives me a chance to actually use a pen and paper and for some reason, it's great to see items truly crossed out rather than just deleted in a Word doc once completed. Great hub!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Even though I have a million notebooks, I write all over whatever is nearby...the backs of envelopes, receipts, whatever! I also downloaded a voice recording app on my phone. It's great when I think of something while driving. Thank you for all these great ideas! May we ever be prolific!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hello FlourishAnyway! So, so true. If I acted on every business or article idea I've ever had, my business would be a discombobulated mess. Thanks for reading & have a great weekend!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Great topic, Heidi! Not every idea that comes to mind should find its way to paper (or the internet). I like the guidance you provide here as well as the shout-out to a fellow Hubber. Yay!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Sharkye11! It truly is as frustrating as too few ideas. I have multiple notebooks & pens around me which have helped me come up with more ideas than any gadgets. Thanks for stopping by & commenting! Have a great weekend ahead!

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      I'm a perpetual sufferer of the "too many ideas at once" syndrome. It can be just as frustrating as writer's block! I use notebooks and pens all the time, they help immensely. Great hub!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Amanda Joy! I thought "writer's burst" really described it best, too. What's really funny is when I can't decipher what I wrote in the dark. ;) Have a great weekend ahead!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hey billybuc! When you said you can find ideas anywhere, I took it literally and found one in your hub. :-D While having too many ideas has its difficulties, I'd rather be swimming than fishing. >

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Michelle! Glad to see I have company. :) The focus problem is huge. It's really easy to get frustrated with so many ideas. Thanks for stopping by!

    • amandajoyshapiro profile image

      amandajoyshapiro 4 years ago

      "Writer's Burst!" Love that phrase! Sometimes there are so many ideas that come to mind I have to put them down in a notebook. They look like random phrases, especially when written in the dark while trying to fall asleep. LOL.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      See, you didn't need me to write this; you did just fine on your own. :)

      Thanks for the mention and well done, Heidi! May we never run out of ideas to write about. :)

    • profile image

      Michelle Widmann 4 years ago

      Having too many ideas is definitely my problem. Thanks for the hub! It really gave me some ideas on staying focused and what I should focus time on.