When Plot Bunnies Attack

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” John Steinbeck

plot bunny, if you don’t already know, is an idea that pops out of nowhere and refuses to go away. It just sits there, looking at you, asking to be written–and then before you know it you have twenty-seven unfinished drafts and no end in sight.

I have a bit of an infestation. Which is to say, I have three different manuscripts above 30,000 words, and about seventeen different stories at least half-begun–and each day that goes by seems to leave me with another.

So, in the spirit of not doing that anymore, here are seven things you can do when faced with a plot bunny.

  1. Ignore It
    Maybe if you starve it, it’ll go away and bug somebody else
  2. Re-read your current draft/notes
    Look at what you’ve already done. Remind yourself why it’s awesome. Rekindle your passion and build a fence to keep the bunnies out.
  3. Let it Sit
    It’s there. It’s looking at you. So look it dead in the eye and stare right back. Don’t commit to writing it, but take a day to consider how you might go about writing it. Sometimes a day of thought is all it takes to see that the idea isn’t as shiny as it looked and isn’t worth chasing anyway.
  4. Talk it Out
    Find a friend you can talk to. Tell them all about the bunny you’ve found. Get the enthusiasm out of your system so you can get back to work. (NOTE: this may backfire if your friend likes the bunny too much and wants you to keep it)
  5. Outline
    Put together an outline to see what you might do if you did decide to write the story. Writing an outline can get the story out of your head, and it’ll give you a solid place to start if you want to come back once you’re free.
  6. Get the Beginning Down
    Write that scene that’s been pestering you, get it started, and then walk away as soon as you run out of steam. Who knows? Maybe the time away will help revitalize enthusiasm for your other project.
  7. Resign Yourself to Bunny Ownership
    Oh no, it seems you couldn’t resist chasing that rabbit, and now you’ve got this brand new story outlined and started, and somehow you’re still going strong. Oops. Well, looks like you have another project, now.

The most important thing about managing Plot Bunnies is to remember that they don’t demand commitment. You can play around without letting them overwhelm you, and so long as you don’t lose sight of your main project, it’s okay to take a break to work on something else every now and again.

Plot Bunnies are only a problem if you let them become a problem.

I keep mine in my Ideas Folder.

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