Do writers get shiny object syndrome? (video)

Viewing time: 4 mins 5 secs 

The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question? Do writers get shiny object syndrome? If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question. 


Do writers get shiny object syndrome? 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 John Glanville, a writer based in Santa Barbara, California. Here’s what he’s asked by email…

“Do writers tend to suffer from “shiny object” issues?”

Thanks for your question John. In case some of our viewers don’t know about Shiny Object Syndrome — also known as SOS – I’m going to begin by defining it.

SOS is a disease of distraction. It gets its name because it’s the equivalent of a young child chasing after shiny objects. Maybe a piece of tinfoil, followed by a doll, followed by a toy truck, followed by a box of Lego.

I wouldn’t say writers, in particular, are especially prone to shiny object syndrome. To me, the biggest group of SOS-ers exists in the world of entrepreneurs.

These are often people who are really creative, willing to take risks and interested in exploring the BIG picture. As a result, they often have an inability to finish projects. They plan their ideas poorly. They burn through cash and they confuse their staff and suppliers.

I’m not saying that writers never experience shiny object syndrome. I’m just saying the issue comes down to personality more than profession.

But, if YOU think you struggle with shiny object syndrome, you’re probably right. Here are three steps you can take to deal with it:

1 – Make sure you spend enough time thinking and researching before you do any writing. Not every story idea is a good one, and by giving yourself more time for preparation, you can save yourself from writing something that just isn’t going to work out.

2 – Don’t allow yourself to multitask. I’ve written a blog post on this topic and I include the link in the show notes below. If multitasking is a big problem for you, consider investing in some software that will help keep you focused. Rescuetime, SelfControl and Freedom are all good examples. See links in the show notes.

3 – Limit the number of projects you allow yourself to run at any given time. Some of us just work too hard and take on too much. If you’re inclined that way, you may have to train yourself to say no to more. Figure out how many projects you can comfortably handle at once and — firmly — say to yourself, no more. You need to finish a project before you allow yourself to start another one.  

Overall, reflect on how much more you could accomplish and how much more meaningful your working life would be if you could finish those projects that were most beneficial to you.

Finally, let me wrap up with the words of content marketer Isaac Dumet: “Shiny object syndrome is a productivity killer. Always chasing the latest trend will leave you distracted and overwhelmed.”

John, good for you for recognizing the negative impact that SOS might be having on your writing life. Take the steps I’ve recommended to deal with it, and I think you’ll be delighted to discover how much more productive you will become.


Viewers, if you have any writing-related questions, I’d be happy to do a video on them. Just send me a quick email,, or put a note in the comments section of this YouTube video .

And, if you’d like to learn more about how to make writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest 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 on the screen below and in the show notes. 


Why you should stop multi-tasking




Your Happy First Draft 

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