There was a point in my writing career before which I had only one plan and that was to pen a mighty epic. This was my sole focus and to this end any and every idea that occurred to me was squeezed into a corner of the world I was building. Pirates, cowboys, angels; my main character would encounter them all.
I am very pleased to say that I am past this point. Mostly.
I think it was sometime during the last year when I realised that I had legitimate ideas beginning to flow from me. By legitimate I mean that they were substantial enough to be the seed for their own world. I was actually generating ideas worth writing their own stories about. I’m not sure if this was unlocked by my beginning to just write (this was the main lesson I took from the creative writing course that got me going: Just write) or maybe my reading certain stories caused me to change the way I viewed the world and how I could use it in my own writing.
Perhaps it was something else entirely or some combination of the above. In any case, with the realisation that I had more than one story in my head and that I was going to be writing more than my one epic, I no longer had the need to include every good idea in that one story. Trying to blend such a hodgepodge of ideas together would no doubt have resulted in a story with multiple personality disorder; the monstrous many-headed hydra of mythology brought to life. And just like in the Greek myth it would no doubt be in need of a good slaying.
Ideas should not be rushed. A good idea will still be good later and is best served by allowing it its own space to grow in good time. Patience is a virtue.
I once gave a summary of my epic to Big Risa and at the time she said to me that there were two stories there and that I should separate them. While I kind of agree with her even now I’m loathe to strip it out. I may have found an alternative to that particular problem though; not an original solution but it may still be the right one.
So now, rather than that singular focus, when I get a new idea I look to the many little baby hydras to see which of those I can graft the idea onto. Still, I suppose that is better than the one super hydra.