SNIS — Death to Productivity

March 27, 2009 at 4:33 PM | Posted in Writing, Writing Advice | 4 Comments

A good 13,000 words into my dystopian fantasy, I realized that the featured world is severely underdeveloped.  This depressed me.

So I moved on to another idea – cancer and attention whores and people you don’t want in your head.  This was hard too, though, seeing as I know nothing about cancer.

I then decided to write an Urban Fantasy about playing God.  This was difficult because it had no plot.

To take my mind off of these failures, I started a book about wolves.  Unfortunately, the main character was a hopeless Mary Sue.

I needed a better, more rounded idea, so I cracked open a romance.  This sucked because I fail at romance.

Shiny New Idea Syndrome–I’m sure we’ve all experienced it.  Being new to the technical side of writing, SNIS is just about the only thing I understand–but that doesn’t mean I’ve learned how to beat it.

To be perfectly honest, I fail at resisting temptation.  When the current WIP becomes too much, there’s always another, better, shinier idea lurking somewhere in the back of your head.  It’s easy to distract yourself for a while; just long enough to develop a whole new arsenal of shiny new ideas.  They’re shiny and tempting and shiny some more.  So what do you do?

Ignore them.


It’s a very well-disguised method of procrastination; it gives you illusion that you’re accomplishing something, and yet you probably realize that you’re never, ever going to finish anything unless you commit.

And therefore, you have a problem.

There are a few methods I use to ease the pain, but it nothing I’ve found so far makes it go away completely.

  • Let your first draft suck.  Go on.  You’ve heard this before.  You can fix it up with spiffy metaphors and hardcore statistics later.  Just get more words onto the page.
  • Make an outline of your current story if you haven’t already.  If you know everything that’s going to happen, there’s sure to be some part that interests you.  Jump to that part and write.
  • Bang your head against a wall a few times.  Not just a little tap; a brain-shattering whomp.  I like this method.
  • Start up a conversation with the most irritating person you know.  My little sister is great for dismissing brain vomit.
  • Make an outline for your Shiny New Idea; if that’s too easy, flesh it out.  Keep on fleshing that outline until it gets difficult.  Then go back to the comparatively fun, easy manuscript you’re supposed to be working on.

I highly recommend the head-smashing technique.  Just make sure you have some Tylenol on hand first.

In summary, SNIS sucks.  It sucks the living daylights out of whatever it is that you’re actually supposed to be writing.  It sucks.

Once again: it sucks.  And it seems to be invincible, too.  Bummer.

If there’s a cure for this absurd affliction, I’d love to know about it.

<3, Terri



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  1. Great post, Ter! I have shiny new ideas, too. However, I am not motivated to write them. This would be a good thing, except that ATM, I’m not extremely motivated to write my current WIP, either. So really, every idea gets its fair share of demotivation. haha.

    Well ok. I think part of my problem, or non-problem, is that I’m such a stickler for writing IN ORDER – I can’t skip a single scene – that starting a new MS when I haven’t gotten to the last scene in the first one sounds unimaginable. (I don’t even know why I’m like that. Something about “missing character development,” maybe, or “an excuse to stop writing when blah scenes need to be written”!)

    I love outlines SNs, though. I love outlining in general and thinking up those “OMG” awesome scene ideas. Now that’s motivating.

  2. Haha Ter. :) I’ve had SNIS for the last week. Three new ideas in the last week. I just like to write until I run out of ideas, put it aside, and go back to working on my WIP. I have a whole list of ideas. I think there’s like 31 of them now. About 10 of those have been started. Two of them are finished.

    In fact, I got a new idea today. Which I forgot about until I read this post and now need to go record for later.

  3. Haha, great post, Terri! I don’t know, I had SNIS for years until I finally decided that, no, THIS is the book I’m working on, and if it’s no longer interesting I will FIND a way to make it interesting. It actually works pretty well. :D

  4. I have a ‘shiny new idea’ but it’s for a sequel of my current WIP. which at the moment is stuck at a ‘blah’ scene, and i know that if i start the next one i’ll never finish the first one – i sympathise with you Emilia! x

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