Not long ago, I was invited to be the guest author at a writing retreat. When I put up a poll to the forty-some attendees of the retreat, giving them options as to topics I could teach, the one with the most responses (by far) was – How Do I Know What to Write Next?
This is a multi-layered decision making process, but there’s a short list to help you sort through all your brilliant ideas.
Write up a pitch for each idea.
Doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to have the character, the stakes, and an obstacle or two. Sit down with a few people to talk about this list and see where they fall. NO idea is too big or too small or too weird for this list. Everything goes. Keep in mind that the ideas easiest to create a pitch for, are often going to be the easiest to write, AND sell when you finish.
The If I Die plan.
What book would you be devastated to have never finished? What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
What character is screaming the loudest?
If you’re not sure, do your best to sit in a quiet room, by yourself, and let your mind wander. Who keeps popping in to let you know what’s up? What characters or events or settings or worlds keep overtaking your thoughts?
If you’re moving toward traditional publishing, you need to see what’s selling, what’s already been sold, and how your book may fit in to that. If you’re independently publishing, watch trends–one of your ideas might fit right in with an upcoming wave.
Write it out.
Just start writing in a few projects, see which voice grabs you and flows. Consider writing an essay from the main character and their thoughts on the big event in their life BEFORE the story begins, or their thoughts on the events you imagine for the novel. Plot out a pivotal scene or get your love interests in the same room and see who has the best chemistry. Write out your villain’s dastardly plan. Create your magical rules. Jump into each idea for a short time and see which ones light you up.
There is no perfect solution to this, and that’s okay. You may change your mind, or end up with a decision made for you by your publisher or your fans (begging you for the next in a series). Or you may find yourself lost in a new project that just won’t let go.
The secret is to remain open-minded, curious, and be willing to lean into your process.
If you’d like to dig into this a little more deeply, we’ve created a self-guided workbook, Pitch It to Write It, to not only help you pick your next project, but to also seek out the core of the story, and set your novel on the right path before you sit down to write.
As always, Allie and I would love to chat through your projects. You can find information HERE to schedule a call.
And you can click HERE if you’d like to take advantage of our workbook to help you choose your next project, and set it on a solid path to success.