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Jacqueline Vick on Author Overload

Jacqueline Vick is the author of the Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic series and the Harlow Brothers series. You can find out more about her here, visit her website here, see her last post here, and see her books here.

There is a vast, dark void that terrifies writers of every ilk. Writer’s Block. The place where elusive ideas taunt the creative mind, deftly avoiding capture. But have you heard of its evil twin, Author Overload? The mental space where new concepts for books and series pelt the author until her idea board looks like it’s been hit by a graffiti artist?

More often than not, I’m suffering from the latter. Let me give you a peek inside my disorganized mind.

I’m working on my current Frankie Chandler mystery. Three ideas are floating around for future books. But wait. What about the Harlow Brothers mysteries? No worries. I have the next two outlined in my head.

Here comes Evan Miller knocking, and he a great idea for turning his standalone, The Body Guy, into a series. And standing next to him is Father McCallister with the same request for An Unhealthy Attachment. The Wilder Women of Family Matters called dibs a long time ago.

But what about the script that is this close to being finished. Thank Heaven they came out with the movie, Free Guy, which is similar to a different script I have in my drawer. But is the movie really that similar to my script? Maybe, with a few changes…and the play, A Streetcar Named Death, just needs one more pass before I send it to community theater groups.

And I have a new mystery series idea, one I think you will REALLY like. I’ve started the research.

So, what’s an author to do when there are so many projects and so little time? (I do like to eat and sleep.)

  1. Prioritize by how near completion each idea is. Finish up the near done before starting those projects still in the idea phase.
  2. Review projects for value. That’s right. It’s a dirty secret. Writers like to be paid for their work. If the series is going well, then the next in the series takes priority over turning an unknown standalone into a series.

This might set off a panic in the creative writer, a fear that those brilliant ideas you set aside will waste away. Take heart. You can always turn to one of them to jump-start your creativity if sibling number one, Writer’s Block, ever shows up.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Jacqueline — PRIORITIZE and ASSESS VALUE. That one-two step is fantastic. And not just in the writing arena. It’s valuable in so many other areas in life, too.

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline Vick

      You are so right, Laurie. I have an accountability partner who reminds me of the latter. Because there are characters I love so much who aren’t showing a return. It’s so easy to think “If I writer ONE MORE BOOK, readers will love him as much as I do.” 🙂

  2. joyribar

    Oh Jacqueline, I’m marveling how many ideas are occupying your mind at once! I’m actually kind of jealous right now. Looks like I have more room in my own mind than I originally thought I had. Sometimes I feel like I entertain the next two or three ideas in the series, plus a new series, plus a short story in the name of procrastination on my current WIP. Your common sense approach is a great solution to this ongoing writer’s dilemma. Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline Vick

      It’s HARD. That’s why I keep reminding myself. Like in this post! I never thought of the procrastination angle. You might have something there.

  3. Margaret Mizushima
    Margaret Mizushima

    Great post, Jacqueline! I’m more prone to being overwhelmed with my personal life to the degree that it interferes with my creativity. Before I got published I had so many great ideas for a variety of books, but since my first book came out, all my ideas fall into the Timber Creek K-9 series. Someone asked Louise Penny at Bouchercon one year if she had ideas for a different series. I loved her response. She said something to the effect of (and this isn’t a direct quote), I have one idea for a series and this is it. I guess I’ll ride it to the end.

    That’s the way I feel about my series. I enjoyed your post!

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline Vick

      Focusing on one is smart, especially when it’s a great series like your Timber Creek K-9 series.

  4. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Great post, Jacqueline! I usually have Writer’s Block. But when ideas come, they’re funneled into my WIP and single series. And it will be my only series since I have twenty-six books in my heart (not all mapped out in my mind yet!) for it.

  5. Avatar

    You’ve given me some impetus to get back going. 2021 was very unproductive. You’ve given some answers to my sinking “help” hand.

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline Vick

      Your books are always great, Madeline. And I think your unproductive might be other people’s busy. That’s the trouble with writers. While we’re working in our heads, it doesn’t look like we’re doing anything. 🙂

  6. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    My first thought: are you a Gemini and/or a Seven on the Enneagram? 🙂
    I only wish I had a fraction of those ideas!

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline Vick

      It’s not really a good thing. It makes for many distractions. I’m a Virgo. You would think I’d be better organized! 🙂

    2. Avatar
      Avanti Centrae

      Sheila – you’re an Enneagram fan? Me too. I love it. Jacqueline – I’m jealous of all those ideas! Sometimes it takes months before I land on one I really like.

      1. Avatar
        Jacqueline Vick

        Sometimes I think it’s easier because mine are humorous. There are plenty of silly examples to draw from just going about my daily business. 🙂

  7. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    Good post! I love Frankie Chandler and highly recommend your series to readers. As for the abundance of ideas… My scriptwriting partner and I have a couple of meetings a year usually where we do nothing but go over all our ideas and prioritize them and even brainstorm a few and take notes. I like making files of thumbnail sketches or short one-page outlines because then I don’t feel panicked about having so many ideas and possibly losing them. I’m like you, it seems, in that stories keep stalking me. It certainly can be frustrating. Good luck with your series and all your projects, Jackie.

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline Vick

      Ooh. Scripts. I’ve one of those rare individuals who actually enjoys reading scripts. And you are right. The head dump onto paper frees the brain cells.

  8. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    I’m glad I’m not the only one with bunches of ideas in my head and no time to write them. I have, however, discovered that the ones I most need to pursue are the one that don’t let me go. It’s been tough not to write every burst of inspiration down, but I’m learning to trust that the best ideas will stick around and if I lose something, it probably wasn’t that good an idea. I will write down little notes for scenes on a WIP – such as a funny aside or other detail. But bigger ideas I hold off writing down.

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline Vick

      I read an article that said you should talk about your book for several weeks before you write it. Anything you forget probably wasn’t worthwhile. Is there a new series hiding out in those ideas?

  9. Tracey Phillips
    Tracey Phillips

    Jackie, you and I are in the same boat it seems. I have more ideas than I can possibly write in the next few years so I’ll take that advice to heart. Prioritize and Assess Value. Unfortunately that creativity spills into other aspects of my life. What piece am I going to play on the piano next? What am I going to plant in the garden? Oh no. And now we’re growing hydroponics indoors. What sleep (wink wink)?

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline VIck

      I hadn’t thought about the other ways it creeps into my life. The big one for me is always What am I going to make for dinner??? I envy your talent at the piano and with plants. I am known as the Death Dealer to all forms of plant life. I killed a Coleus in a week. I’ve heard that’s very difficult.

  10. Avatar
    Donna Rewolinski

    That IS the evil twin to writer’s block. I appreciate the topic. Only writers get it. When ideas for other series, fleshing out previous minor characters as readers love them, write in other genres. So much to do, so little time.

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline Vick

      Perfectly put. Fleshing out minor characters made me think of spin-off series on television. Oh, my. Another thing to consider!

  11. Avatar

    What a fabulous mind you have, Jacqueline! I can picture a clothesline, full of colorful garments, ready for you to unpin and use at any moment. Whatever you choose, I’m excited to read it.

  12. Avatar
    Jacqueline Vick

    Oh my heavens! What a nice description. It brings back childhood memories. I only wish it were that organized. But I’m going to keep that image in mind, because I like it.

  13. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    I have never thought about overload before now, Jackie! What a fascinating perspective, partly because, yeah, same issue! Should I start the cozy series in the marina? Or the series with my current book’s mom? Or change gears and go with the suburban suspense? Or, or, or… I write outlines and notes and keep them organized in folders. Otherwise the ideas gunk up my head. Then when I look through the main folder I get little surprises like Transatlantic Mystery. I’d forgotten about that one.

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline VIck

      You too, huh? I’ve started using plotter to keep track of ideas. It has actually helped me prioritize them.

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