How to deal with a new book idea, when you’re already writing a different one (video)

Viewing time: 4 mins. 27 secs. 

The Write Question is a weekly video podcast about writing that I started in 2017 and that ran, more or less weekly, until April 2022. This is a republication of issue #121, which discusses how to deal with a new book idea (when you’re already writing a different one). The post first ran on Dec. 20/19.



How do you deal with a new book idea when you’re already writing a different one? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach. 

I have a question from Kimberly Davis, a writer based in Savanah, Georgia. Here’s what she’s asked via email: 

“I often have a fantastic idea for a new book when I’m halfway through writing the current one – how do I keep myself motivated to continue? Or do you think it would be smarter of me to switch to the new idea, for which I have so much more enthusiasm.” 

Thanks for your question, Kimberly. The idea you’re expressing — how something starts to seem unworkable the more time we spend with it — also applies to relationships as well. 

Some psychologists describe these relationships as operating on a push-pull dynamic. You know what I’m talking about! One partner is VERY interested in the relationship and other is much more ambivalent. But as soon as the interested partner backs off a little bit, the ambivalent one becomes much more attentive. Below, I’m including a link to a post from Psych Central on the topic. 

Well, exactly the same thing can happen to writers. The first book idea in your head sounds interesting and compelling and you devote a lot of time to it. But when you’re stuck in the messy middle, finishing that book just starts to seem too hard. That’s when the idea of beginning over with a fresh idea seems so much more attractive. 

One piece of advice in the Psych Centre blog post struck me as especially applicable to writers. Psychologist Dan Neuharth said, “Anxiety Is the Problem, So Managing Anxiety Is the Solution.” To manage your own anxiety, you really need to divorce yourself from any concerns about quality. When you write you have only one job, to write. Forget about editing. Forget about quality control. Forget about looking for an agent or a publisher. Forget about what future readers are going to say or think. Just write. 

Here is some other advice to consider: 

  • Don’t lose your ideas. If you have a great new idea for a book write it down somewhere safe. The idea will still be ready and waiting for you when you finish your first book.
  • Keep your writing time manageable. If you’re spending more than an hour a day on your book, you may be burning yourself out. Most professional writers agree that spending too much time on a book is both unhealthy and unproductive.
  • Take plenty of breaks. I always write for 25 minutes at a time and then take a five-minute break. And try to get yourself outside during these breaks so you can enjoy the benefits of fresh air. Checking email or Facebook is NOT a break!
  • Set a reasonable writing goal and then meet it. When I wrote my last book, Your Happy First Draft, see link below, my daily writing goal was 500 words. Some days I felt like writing more; other days, I had to squeeze those 500 words out of myself. But I just showed up day after day, and met my goal, no matter how I felt.

Writing isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun. But if you give yourself a reasonable goal, you can do it, Kimberly. You don’t want to change horses in the middle of a stream. See link below. And you’ll be able to get to your new book idea soon enough. 

Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from London-based therapist Rachel Anyika: “Do not believe that you are needy, wrong or not worthy of a stable relationship.” 

Kimberly, I know the therapist is talking about relationships, not writing, but her advice still holds true. Don’t believe that your current book idea is bad simply because you’ve had another idea. We ALL get a little bit dejected in the messy middle. Finish what you started before you move onto your next project.


If you’d like to learn how to stop procrastinating and make writing a happier, more fulfilling process, please look at my  book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link below.   


An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Dec. 20/19.


Psych Central 

How to break the habit of editing while you write 

Your Happy First Draft 

Should I change horses midstream? (video)

Your Happy First Draft 


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