3 Steps to Overcome Idea Hoarding

by Cathy Elliott, @CathyElliott10

When I wrote my first cozy mystery, A Vase of Mistaken Identity, ideas flooded my brain, vying for attention and fighting to be first on the page. I typed at a crazed pace, anxious to release all this creativity. I was on-a-roll, to use an overused cliché, until some wayward questions shoved their way into my mental space and began to bellyache.

What if I run out of ideas? How do I find more when these are all used up? Since I hoped to have a second Thea James adventure after this one, I worried nothing interesting would remain for the next book. No clever puns, no sparkling dialogue, no captivating scenes. Where do they come from if I put all I have into my first tome?

These pesky thoughts replaced my comfortable, imaginary chest of unending words and phrases. Afraid to use what was at hand, I slowed down…and worried instead. Lines I planned to use in my current manuscript were stored on sticky notes, clipped together, and labeled, “Save for Book II.” Grinch-like with my stash, I told them, “Okay, I’ll use you now. But you and you must wait for the next novel. And stop whining!”

Then came the looming question, would there even be a next novel? Mine was a one-book deal, so it wasn’t a given. After days of hand-to-hand combat with my concerns, I came out victorious, possessing tools to free me from myself. As well as any evil-urchins, circling, plotting to steal my joy. Here’s how I broke free:

1. First, I prayed
. Seems so simple, no? Yet sometimes it was the last thing I remembered to do. Unable to reason my way out of the self-doubt most of us experience on the writing journey, I had no choice but to seek God. I needed peace and wisdom in order to progress further. Prayer opened the door out of my inner chaos.

2. Then, I reached out and asked for help. Organizing what I called a Plot Party, I invited several writing buddies out for pie & coffee at a local Marie Callendar’s. We brainstormed my book first, and with passion. Soon one of my friend’s trouble spots hit the table, too. Everyone joined in to add rescue-comments for her. It was like an idea stampede. We scribbled notes as if afraid a few might escape our literary lassos. Some suggestions, though interesting, weren’t quite where I wanted my character or story to go. Still, they sparked other ideas I could use. Corralling affable authors together resulted in this author lugging home a wealth of inspiration. (I think my muse hitched a ride, as well.)

3. Finally, I placed my trust in The Great Author.
Another simplistic solution? Yes and no. Simple, but not always easy. And why not? He had given me favor with editors and a wonderful agent, all beyond expectation. My book deal was by His Hand. He even provided the story. When I thought about how God had orchestrated it all, why did I doubt there would be more when and if I needed it?

A friend, knowing my doubts, pointed to the story of the widow’s oil from II Kings 4. The widow, besieged by creditors who wanted to take her sons as slaves in payment, came to Elisha to beg for help. She had nothing but a small jar of olive oil. Elisha told her to have her sons borrow all the empty jars they could and then instructed her to pour out the oil until each jar was full. She did so, filling all the jars. After selling the jars of oil, they paid off their debts, and lived on the rest.

Through her act of pouring out, the oil was multiplied. In God’s economy, the way to increase what I have is to use it. Not in hoarding. When I pour it out; He pours more in.

Truly, the God who has called us to write has unlimited resources for our purposes. “Those whom God calls, He equips,” writes Walter Bright on his blog. Reminiscent of the old adage, “God does not call the enabled, He enables the called.”

A familiar hymn tells us to “Trust and Obey.” Wise words. Once we do, we are free to use the very best we have, secure in the knowledge that more will come when needed.

Right on time.


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A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott

Assault, larceny, anonymous threats. Who knew quilt shows could be this dangerous?

Thea James thought working as co-chair for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza would be a natural extension of her antique business. But while organizing the busy week’s premiere events would make anyone frayed, she doesn’t expect a complete unraveling!
At the opening soirée, local matriarch Mary-Alice Wentworth is knocked unconscious and robbed of her diamond brooch. Soon a rare quilt—the main attraction and a rumored key to great riches—goes missing. Those who signed up to help Thea are strangely no help at all. What more could possibly happen?
Amid a cast of colorful characters and a tight schedule of garden galas, tea parties, and televised socials, everything is falling apart at the seams – and nothing is quite what it seems. Can Thea sew everything back together?

“…Fans of inspirational fiction will enjoy the funny, feel-good whodunit.”
Publishers Weekly Review
“…There is mystery and laughter, and Elliott’s characters are strong, confident and determined to make their mark….Fans will want to add this gem to their keeper shelf.” RT 4-Star Review

Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer in northern California whose mysteries
reflect her personal interests of crafting and collecting. She also leads music
at church and cherishes time with her grandchildren. In addition to various
articles and anthology contributions, Cathy’s written ten children’s books for
classroom use. Her plot-twisting works include A Vase of Mistaken Identity, Medals
in the Attic,
and A Stitch in Crime. She
is also a contributing author to Guidepost’s Every Day with Jesus releasing in 2017.

more information about Cathy, visit her at: www.cathyelliottbooks.com