How to Handle Plot Bunnies While Editing

Posted July 31, 2015 by Briana in writing tips / 5 Comments

I’m currently working on the second draft of my novel Blood and Water, which means lots of editing. The more I work on this book, the more excited I get about it. I can’t wait until it’s finished and I can share it with all of you!

At the same time, I can’t get thoughts of my next book out of my head. A character fell into my mind a few weeks ago (her name is Ramachandra), and I haven’t been able to shake her since.

I already determined that I would finish this first round of edits before diving into something new, but these plot bunnies are driving me crazy. I’m trying to stave off Shiny New Idea Syndrome, but it is coming for me. It will try to sink its claws in me, and I have to resist it until this draft is done.

Luckily, I’ve discovered a few techniques to help manage these errant plot bunnies. It’s a far from perfect system, but it’s made a lot of difference. If you’re struggling like me, here’s what I recommend:

  • Make a Pinterest board. If your mind is filling up with images for the book you want to write, scour the Internet for pictures and add them to a novel Pinterest board. Even though I haven’t written a single word of Reflections, I’ve already dumped a lot of images here.
  • Keep track of your ideas. Instead of dismissing every plot bunny that pops into your head, write it down in a notebook or an app like Evernote. When it comes time to write the new book, you’ll be glad you saved this stuff!
  • Remind yourself what you love about the book you’re working on. If you’re struggling to stay on task with your current project, focus on what you enjoy about it. Do you love your characters? What about your world? The setting? No matter what, you should be able to find something worth staying for. Make a list if you need to so that you can always remind yourself why your book is great.
  • Set the new WIP idea as a reward. This tip is working so well for me! Try telling yourself something like, “As soon as I finish this draft, I can start on the new project.” The hardest part? Sticking to it. Still, knowing you have a clear start point on the horizon makes it easier to wait.
  • Do NOT start a new project in Scrivener or open a new Word document! As tempting as it may be to “just set things up,” do not fall into temptation! As soon as your new project or document has been created, your fingers will be itching to start writing. Run away now!
  • Ask for help. If all else fails, do what I’ve been doing: go on Twitter, complain about not wanting to edit, and (humbly) invite people to chastise you. Some people enjoy this more than they should, and will jump at the chance to wag their finger (even playfully) at you for not working! (My Twitter friends are the best.)

Like I said, these techniques are far from foolproof, but they’re helping me stay sane while I crank out this second draft. By the time I finally finish these edits, I’ll be raring to go to work on the first draft of Reflections. Until then, I hope I can stay disciplined!

What do you do with inconvenient plot bunnies? How do you defeat Shiny New Idea Syndrome?

Tweet tweet:

Holy plot bunnies, Batman! In this post @brianawrites discusses how to tackle Shiny New Idea Syndrome. (Click to tweet)

Itching to start a new book before your WIP is finished? Check out @brianawrites’ tips for handling this dilemma. (Click to tweet)

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5 responses to “How to Handle Plot Bunnies While Editing

  1. Rae Oestreich

    Huh. I like a lot of your ideas – it’s all too easy to get sucked into writing a new idea when you’re supposed to be editing a current project. I think where I disagree, though, is that you shouldn’t write something new while you edit.
    Hear me out!

    I mean, you’ve got to stay focused, of course. Yes, I think it’s okay to start planning out a new idea and even writing a few scenes, but it takes a lot of self-discipline, because the last thing you want to do is to stop editing completely and JUST write. But I think, sometimes, just going through the process of editing can be draining, and every now and again (not every day), it’s a relief to be able to just sit and work on something different.

    Sorry, devil’s advocate over here XD

    What I think is SO SO SO important that you touched on, though, is the “Remind yourself what you love about the book you’re working on” bit. Even during drafting stages (but especially during editing), it’s so easy to get stressed out and focus on what’s bad and what’s wrong, and you lose sight of what you love about the project and what’s important about it to you; sometimes, you’ve got to focus on the good and the positives about it! What keeps drawing me back to my current WIP (which I’ve been editing for FOREVER because the plot’s been a mess in previous drafts) is the characters – how much pain they’re in and the complexity of the mystery that surrounds them that they need to sort out in order to take their lives into their own hands. So I focus on that, and I focus on how much of myself I see in them and how much room they have to grow. And that’s what I love about my current project <3

    Excellent post, Briana!

    • Briana Morgan

      This is one of the best comments I’ve read on this site! And now I’m thinking about starting on the new story, too… oh no! But who knows? Maybe I’ll be okay! 🙂

      • Rae Oestreich

        Aw, shucks ^_^

        And your new idea sounds amazing! Definitely give yourself time to think about it and maybe try a few test-scenes out; it’ll be a great break from editing so you can keep your creativity and imagination fresh and never burnt-out! Of course…I can totally be here reminding you to keep editing. Support group, time? ^_^

  2. I’ve been fighting off ideas. What started as a single book is now four books, even though the first book is still a WIP. Because they are related to each other, I have sketched out the plot for them. A little of it has fed back to the first book and there are a few setups and lines that fade into the background until you know what happens later.