Too many ideas can be dangerous

Allison Tait blog
Posted on December 5, 2010

I left the muse on the train. A weekend away and my head is whirling with ideas, thoughts and impressions. Usually, this would be a good thing. But I’m struggling to distil it all into a single post. I’ve talked before about finding the armpits of a story. Today, I think I’ve turned left at the belly button and ended up somewhere under the right shoulder blade.

Too many ideas can be just as difficult for a writer as too few. When you’ve got nothing, you have to magic something out of thin air. When you’ve got a flood, you need to find a rowboat and decide a course of action. It’s your voice that helps you swim through, technically popping you up into a life ring just when you need one.

Deciding what to leave out is as important as deciding what to put in. Give three writers the same set of information and chances are they will each come up with a different story. Or should.

At this point, I’m still swimming in fragments. Two 17-year-old boys discussing life, Slash and hair. Whether it’s polite or not to insert yourself into another family’s crossword-puzzle debate (“no, no, stationary with an ‘a'”). The science of managing expectations. The sheer magnitude of realising that I’m okay with not being 25 any more.

Where am I going with this? Precisely my point.

I’m going to leave this post right here and head back to the station to await that muse. With any luck she’ll arrive with a clear plan on the morning train. Either that, or a full day of the family-work routine will swiftly bring me back to earth as a one-idea-at-a-time kind of gal.


  1. Lavender Luz

    You really spoke to me with this: “When you’ve got nothing, you have to magic something out of thin air. When you’ve got a flood, you need to find a rowboat and decide a course of action.”

    I really like your writing. So glad to “meet” you! And may we both be blessed by even-tempered and ever-present muses 🙂

  2. waytenmom

    Hi there! Dropping by from Maria’s Monday Mingle. Your “detoured” writing was still fun to read! Maybe because I can so tottaly relate to those feeilngs you expressed so well!

  3. Jennifer

    Cute post! – I can totally relate to this, not only in writing but in my everyday life. Hard to find your muse when you are bombarded at every angle!

  4. The Blonde Duck

    Fellow writer popping in from SITS to say hi! Ideas are a blessing, but overwhelming at times! That’s why a good editor is so important, or a critique partner you can trust.

  5. MultipleMum

    You always have a great eye (ear? belly-button?) for a story. More about the 17 year old boy insights (God knows we’ll need them)! Never miss an opportunity to correct grammar but tread carefully into ANYONE’s crossword puzzle. Is there a science of managing expectations? What’s your theory? and I’ve heard, 41 is the new 25 anyway so no need to get too comfortable 🙂

  6. bigwords is...

    And then you write a gorgeous post about the ideas swirling around in your head!


  7. Stacia

    Family crossword puzzles … I want to hear more about that one! Well, all of them, really, but especially that one. Hope the morning train’s on time.

  8. hayidan

    Love this post.

  9. Cricket

    I am your new follower from the blog hop. Please come on by and join my super hop! You will get traffic to your twitter and facebook. Have a great day!

  10. Lady Estrogen

    A lot of people say that inside my mind must be a hurricane. Perhaps… but I can often see through the fog every once and a while. lol.

  11. Jane @ the girl in the brick house

    You’ve either got to get those thoughts in line (boring and too hard) or just run with them! I like the sense of freedom of the latter. Go for it!

  12. Susan @ Reading Upside Down

    I seem to wander through my day like this most days, with a multitude of ideas floating about. Then I sit in front of my computer and they are nowhere to be found.

    My muse is obviously tech-phobic. 🙁

    Good luck with bringing your thoughts into line. When you work out how, let me know.

  13. @jencull (jen)

    We have a saying for this, in Ireland, which goes ‘it’s either a feast or a famine’. So I understand:) Jen

  14. Maxabella

    This is my problem every single day. x

  15. So Now What?

    Don’t laugh at me but I saw a psychic about a year ago (who was spot on) and I said to her I just need to focus as I have so many thoughts all the time.

    She said, and I feel a little silly even typing this, that I have a lot of faeries constantly flying around my head. And they do not help and that I need to learn to meditate. Oh God that does sound ridiculous. Disregard me and carry on.


  16. Kim H

    Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s exactly how it is. For me it’s either a flood or a drought. I never seem to have that steady little drizzle of ideas flowing gently. I love your insight:)

  17. anjwritesabout.com

    I seem to have this problem a lot…not only with my writing, but with most things in life. I am so full of ideas that I have a hard time figuring out which few to pursue. Here’s hoping your muse (and mine) both rock up just in the nick of time 😉

  18. Naturally Carol

    I was like that yesterday in deciding what to write for ‘maxabella loves’ gratitude post! The idea that touches my heart genuinely always wins over my ‘clever’ ideas. In the end the words flow more naturally from my heart.

  19. Rachel

    Sounds like myself when I come up with an idea for a photography … or should I say to many photography idea’s…. hope the muse arrives on time and sorts the whole big jumble out 🙂

  20. mamabook

    I love where you went with this post. Using the problem of having too many ideas to write a post abt the problem of having too many ideas! V clever. Brain swirling. It will settle down now that you are back in your pink fibro.

  21. Tenille

    Did you ever see the episode of The Simpsons when Mr Burns goes for a checkup and they tell him his multitude of medical conditions are all so perfectly balanced that the symptoms cancel each other out completely? I feel a bit like that about blogging sometimes.

  22. Lucy

    The family-work routine has its way of bring everything home.

  23. Sarah

    Is it weird that this post both confused and made perfect sense to me at the same time?
    See you at the station.

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