My Technique For Dealing With Multiple Muses

If you’re a writer, you’ve usually had more than one idea. Different characters, premises, worlds, or what-have-you all fighting for your attention. Typically, the ideas pour in when you’re deep in the middle of writing another story, and dry up when you finish it.

It can be hard to figure out where you should focus.

For me? These tips are how I handle competing novel novel ideas. (all puns are good puns.)

1. Focus on writing one story at a time

There are tons of people who fight with multiple muses, and lose. They end up leaving the scattered remains of half-finished stories and novels behind them, in their pursuit of working only on the freshest and most compelling idea.

If this works for you, have at.

For most of us, though, I highly suggest picking one–the one with the clearest story concept.

Now, if you’ve lost the story thread or have given it your honest best-effort and feel like it’s not coming together, I’m not saying you can’t switch stories. You’re not committed to finish every story you start.

But. moving on, simply because your writing starts taking effort is, for most of us, going to mean that you never finish a story. The choice is up to you.

Personally, I like to switch it up after a draft, and explore a different story and world. Then again, we all know, I’m still hopelessly devoted to my first completed manuscript.

2. Write Down Your Story Ideas

I know, it’s a stereotypical writer image — scrambling for a napkin or bedside journal to write down some stray random thought or dream… BUT DO IT!

Dreams and stray thoughts are where most story ideas come from. That, and playing a game of ‘what if’, followed by rationalized consequences.

For me, I have a draft email, that I can access on my computer or phone at anytime (because I’m a bit attached to my phone. One might say I’m addicted) and I write down my thought or concept.

I find often, so long as I record the concept and imagery, such that I feel confident that looking back on these notes will remind me of the idea, that I can return to my current work in progress, knowing this idea is waiting for me.

And usually? My ideas are small snippets that need more exploration and growth before they can become a full-fledged story. That’s why I read them over every so often and see if I can add details to them.

Where do I read them over? That brings me to my next tip.

3 – Organize Your Idea Notes

The biggest problem with tip #2 is finding all those little ideas when you’re ready to start your next story. If they’re all on different scraps of paper, random pages in twenty journals, scattered throughout the places you go in your daily life, it’ll be hard to look them over and decide your next move.

So, consolidation is KEY.

For me? I have all of my story ideas in one email draft, so I can see them in one place. Plus, by being electronic, I can re-order the collected ideas, so that similarly-themed ones are grouped together. I don’t know about you, but oftentimes, I have ideas that overlap with ones I’ve had in the past. Probably because certain themes and concepts just appeal to me strongly and I like exploring them.

4 – Re-read and Build On Your Notes

I’ve already alluded to this, and I know it feels a lot like tip 3? But, when you organize your ideas, often times they grow and change.

When you revisit your idea notes, this is when you can see if any of them have been percolating in the back of your head, sprouting from a story seed. (Any more metaphors I can toss in there?)

Sometimes? I delete ideas. Either I’ve already used it, lost the thread, or realize the reason I haven’t done something with this idea is that the concept seemed novel, but doesn’t really work for me.

I’ve been known to write a page or so as a story sampler, trying to find a voice and setting for the concept. Just be sure to keep it someone searchable and label it!

Managing muses can be hard. It can be a struggle to focus on one, when there are so many ideas fighting for your attention. This is writing, not math, there is no definitive right answer. Only you can decide which story to focus on today.

How do you manage your story ideas?

Any tips of the trade that I missed? I love hearing from y’all.


Happy Spring Equinox!

Author Spotlight: Louisa M Bauman

– author, researcher, wife, and mom

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Louisa M. Bauman.

Louisa M Bauman is a mom, wife, and author from Ontario, Canada and she loves researching and writing. Before her second life as a writer, she was an avid gardener canning hundreds of jars of her own fruits and vegetables every year, a quilt-maker, a collector of vintage dishes, a scrapbooker, a sewing lady, and a latch-rug hooker, and of course an obsessive reader, but most of all, a mom to eight kids.  

She writes sixteenth century historical fiction and readers have described her books as inspiring, real, poignant, intriguing, sad, full of love and hope, faith-filled and fast-paced.

Louisa, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

It seems I’m not your typical author—I have no cats and only one dog who lives in the barn with the sheep. I don’t really want anything furry or noisy around me all the time, but I love watching fish. I would have an aquarium full of colorful fish, like the one I saw at the Mandarin recently. Maybe even a waterfall. I could listen to water 24/7.  There’s something so calming about watching fish swim around, and besides, I love water.

I love waterfalls and listening to running water. My Instagram may have an obnoxious number of pictures of water — or did when I lived next to a lake. I understand the soothing aura of water, too.

What do you write and how did you get started?

Writing was always a dream of mine, ever since Grade 4 when a teacher said, “One day I will read a book written by Louisa Bauman.” Odds were against me ever achieving it, but I never forgot about it. Creative writing and art were my two favorite subjects in school, and for a long time I didn’t know which one I liked best. But I chose writing because it seemed easier to learn, less investment.

What a joke.

Three years ago, I had to start from scratch, armed with my Grade 8 education, English as my second language and a great deal of determination. I learned how to use a computer, Word, Facebook, Google and just EVERYTHING. It’s an ongoing process and I have a lot of fun, EXCEPT when I’m trying to master things like Scrivener, or macincloud so I can use Vellum.

I loved creative writing in school, too. I’m so excited that you found you way back to it, as well!

What do you like to read?

I read extensively for my research, things like encyclopedias, 1000 page volumes of martyr stories and the Bible. I also have a TBR pile that, laid end to end in paperbacks, would stretch halfway around the world (But I have so many ebooks waiting on Kindle) I read anything that sounds interesting in historical fiction and sometimes romance if there’s a real story, not just a lusty couple. Two of my favorite authors are Philippa Gregory and Francine Rivers.

I’m a Philippa Gregory fan as well. And I enjoy romances with compelling plots.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

“Write it and they will come.”

No, they won’t. Not unless you market like a demon, eating up time you could be spending on writing. Oh, and speaking of spending, you have to invest money you don’t have, and compete against thousands of other books out there, not to mention the countless other ways people entertain themselves. Suck up the rejection and revel in the praise.

That’s my biggest fear for trying to go indie. You are far braver than I.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Write a good book.

To gain readers and keep them, you have to write a good book. You can’t just word vomit one weekend and publish on Monday. Take your time and do it right.

Oh, and write. every. Single. day.

Writing could be researching, actual writing, or editing. But never skip a day, even if it’s just five minutes. Like my writing instructor said, he will excuse us only if we have a note from the doctor saying we were in a coma.

I’ve been slacking off recently. But, I’ve preached the ‘just five minutes’ approach myself. Either you get five minutes of work done, or you find enough focus and get more done. It’s a win-win approach.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Sister, Fight Valiantly: A Christian Love Story Novella by [M Bauman, Louisa]

Sister, Fight Valiantly

This novella was released in February 2019 and has been enjoyed even by non-Christians.

It’s a true story that was dubbed a real-life Romeo and Juliet.

I have six 5 star reviews on it and one 3 star, so I think it’s successful.

Sword of Peace: A Journey From Fear to Faith (Sword of Münster Series Book 1) by [Bauman, Louisa M]

Sword of Peace

This is my debut novel, self-published February 10, 2018, and I was totally at ease publishing it because I didn’t think anyone would want to read my book, much less enjoy it, so low was my self-esteem. It has religion, for heaven’s sake, and even worse politics, albeit 16th century politics. Fascinating stuff, really.

This is my debut novel, self-published February 10, 2018, and I was totally at ease publishing it because I didn’t think anyone would want to read my book, much less enjoy it, so low was my self-esteem. It has religion, for heaven’s sake, and even worse politics, albeit 16th century politics. Fascinating stuff, really.

Now, 56 reviews later, averaging 4.6 stars, and the recipient of an indieBRAG medallion honoree award, I’m actually TERRIFIED to get the sequel out. There’s pressure and anxiety like you wouldn’t believe, BUT I will fight through it. I’m re-writing at the moment, and it will be the LAST re-write for this book.

Daughters of the Past: A Historical Fiction Anthology by [Li Barr, Nola, Bauman, Louisa, Merewether, Lauren Lee, Miller, Kimberly C., Stathers, Gracie]

Daughters of the Past

This is an anthology I co-authored with 4 other historical fiction authors and contains Sister, Fight Valiantly under the title LIZZIE.  Published February 2019. There’s stories of five different courageous women, from the 14th to the 19th century.

Kindle Edition

How Three Children Saved A Lamb’s Life

I wrote this one for my children. We started raising sheep on our farm and I wanted a memento of their excitement when one little lamb needed their help to survive.  It was published Dec 2018.

I’m mostly found cruising around on Facebook, so you can find me there if you want to connect.

Don’t Give Away Your Writing Time

Sunday, in many parts of the United States was the start of Daylight Saving Time. A ridiculous practice in which we pretend it’s daylight longer by rolling our clocks forward.

I am exhausted and underwhelmed to have lost an hour of sleep.

I know that for people with children or pets or sleeping disorders, it can be harder. They’re not able to understand why we’re getting up earlier.

I console myself with the knowledge that I’ll get that hour back, come late fall.

But, all too often, we give away our writing time, without a government mandated clock adjustment.

This is going to be a ‘do what I say, and not as I do’ sort of post, that’s inspirational for me. I hope you find it a little inspiring, though.

When it comes down to it, all writers can categorize their time spent not writing into two types:

1. Intentional Time Spent Not Writing

We all have obligations and lives outside of our writing. Mouths to feed, chores to do, loved ones to support and cherise. Not to mention, many of us have day jobs — be they paid or unpaid. And all of those things deserve (or should deserve) our undivided attention.

And if you’re me? You probably want to fit some sleep in there. And contemplate exercising.

Plus, we all need downtime. Being 100%, all the time, is exhausting. Scheduling 100% of your time is going to lead you to be checked out, whenever you can get away with it. Schedule in the things that motivate you or refresh you. TV binge watching, marathon training, book reading, long walks on pretty spring days.

Whatever brings you joy and helps lower your stress level.

2. Unintentional Time Spent Not Writing

These are the time sucks. When you’re free to write, and you go to sit down to write, but instead end up on social media. Or watching three hours of Tiny House videos, or downloading some sort of tetris game, where the lines of blocks just slide sideways, and playing til you hit level 19…

These are just random examples off the top of my head, I don’t know what sort of things you people are into.

I wanted to call it stolen time, but that time isn’t stolen, you’ve just given it away. And then it’s 11:30 pm and you’re just starting your weekly blog post, and you still owe a beta reader some feedback. (But, at least your latest chapters are with your mentor, so at least she’s not waiting on you.)

If you’re not careful, you can lose all your writing time, in the blink of an eye.

For those of us without agents, we create our own schedules and goals, and we’re the only ones holding ourselves accountable.

Is the extra downtime puttering worth it?

I usually say that, unlike exercise or people, if you don’t have time for your writing or it’s not bringing you joy, you can always put it away for a few months… or decades, and it’ll be there waiting when you’re ready.

I’m never quite sure if that analogy is comforting or creepy, but hey. It is what it is.

But, the last person I said that to is past retirement age and reminded me, not all of us have that much time. And they’re right. Not to mention, none of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

Only you can decide if goofing off and getting more downtime is worth giving up your writing time today. Maybe you’re having an off-day. Maybe you’re stuck in your writing and letting your brain try and process in the background without forcing it too hard, maybe you’re tired and brain-friend and don’t want your writing to look as coherent as a cold-medication-inspired ramble.

But maybe, you’re just not focused on the end goal and you need to buckle down.

Look at your dreams, your goals, and the people who matter to you. Decide what you’d most regret not-doing — that you KNOW you want to do — and start your list of priorities there.

Author Spotlight: Jolie Vines

a romance writer and indie publisher.

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Jolie Vines.

Jolie Vines is from the UK, and writes big-love contemporary romance. Her stories are ‘safe’ – no cheating and always with a HEA, and her heroes are proud, honourable men who fall hard for their heroines, even if they don’t realise it at first. Jolie’s debut, Storm the Castle (Marry the Scot, #1) features Laird Callum McRae, a huge, braw Highlander who has looked after his family of brothers for years and knows what he wants when he sees it.

Jolie, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

I’m mum to a two-year-old so we’re considering a dog as we speak! But I’m allergic so any suggestions of breeds that won’t kill me with dander are welcome.

Oooh! The internet suggests a few types of terriers.

What do you write and how did you get started?

My new Marry the Scot series is set in the Scottish Highlands and centres around the McRae brothers. I write contemporary romance with castles/big houses, weddings, and usually a rich/poor combination. I like honesty and I enjoy putting my characters through their paces and testing their mettle.

For example, Mathilda Storm in book one has a choice handed to her right at the start – a marriage of convenience which would solve a major issue. But in the same breath, she meets Callum McRae, laird and owner of a big heart. He’s a very hard man to not fall for and, when she shares her situation with him, it only makes him more determined to fight for her.

I’ve been writing for a few years now but have just taken the step to becoming an independent publisher, too. It’s exciting and complex and I’m so enjoying myself.

The first romance I ever read was an arranged marriage to a Scottish laird, that I picked up at my grandmother’s house. So, I’m feeling a lot of nostalgia and excitement for your novel.

What do you like to read?

I read romance in all its glorious forms. I love PNR and fantasy, angsty NA-college tales, but I will claw my way to any new contemporary releases with titled characters.

I’ve got a soft spot for supernatural romances, but contemporary usually isn’t my thing.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

“Every word should count.”

I’ve always applied the rule that every word should count. However, tight writing doesn’t automatically make a great story. Most readers won’t notice or care that an author has used one too many adverbs so long as they are transported away on a journey. Learn tight writing, then learn how to build worlds (including in contemporary romance).

I love world building, and sparse writing can miss that magic. But I definitely know the benefit of tightening my word-count. Great advice.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Educate yourself.

Like in any other career, authors need to learn the ropes. The best way is to self-educate with the wealth of craft books / free resources out there (check out Jami Gold’s website and her beat sheets), then get feedback. Throw your work into the path of agents, publishers, anyone who is a step ahead of you, and listen to what they say. Then write something better.

I have linked to Gold’s beat sheets several times. I love them for plotting or pacing out my first revision.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

My hot Scots will be coming at you this Spring.

If you like big love, big families, and big heroes, and if you’ve got a thing for a Scottish accent, you’re going to adore this series. Storm the Castle (Marry the Scot, #1) comes out March 14th, with the second and third books not far behind.

Available here