Writer’s Block is famous (or infamous). Everyone has heard of it and it’s probably the most common problem that plagues writers (other than simply not having the drive/concentration to finish a story).
But what about the other issue? What about people with too many ideas?
That’s my problem and it’s always been my problem. Sure, sometimes I stare at the cursor blinking on my screen with no idea what to write next, but it doesn’t usually last long—I just power through it or take a break.
Right now, I have 7 story ideas at various stages in development.
I’m not complaining, at least not really. I prefer having too many ideas to writer’s block so I can write something at least, but the story I’m writing is coming to a close and I have NO idea which of the other ideas I should start next.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem.
However, I do have some ways to help pick one idea over others.
1. The Most Interesting One Right Now: Hopefully, all your ideas are interesting. But is there one sparking your interest? Can you picture yourself writing it without daydreaming about another idea? Those are some questions I ask myself when trying to decide what to go with next. There’s nothing more painful than finishing up a story when you have a bright, shiny new idea you’d like to start instead. So picking the bright, shiny idea from the beginning might help.
2. Consider Scale: Some of the ideas I have are single novels about one or two main characters. Others are multi-book series that take place in a multi-series universe where tons of characters and countries are up to their own schemes. Obviously, option 1 requires less pre-work (in theory) and less to keep track of. So, what are your up for? To me, this is a bit like picking the difficulty on a video game you love (Fire Emblem, always) or choosing a book to read. Sometimes, you say “bring it” and pick hard (if you’ve played Fire Emblem, you know just how insane some Hard modes are) or read War and Peace, other times, you just want to have fun and go with “easy” and read something by light like a Harry Dresden novel. Both are enjoyable and worthwhile depending on your mood.
3. What Stage? Another thing to consider is how far along the stories are. Some of my stories have their worlds built, timelines organized (mostly), and characters fleshed-out. For others, I could summarize everything I know about them in less than 100 words. Ask yourself? Do I want to jump into writing right away and pick something already thought out? Or do I want to start from scratch and build something up? I’ve done both, and they’ve both worked out.
4. How About Not Writing? Okay, so this idea isn’t going to be popular. If you really can’t pick one and need more time to sit on it (committing to a novel is a big deal after all), then consider blowing off the dust on an old, already written novel and editing or proofreading. If you’ve edited one a few times, why not focus on writing query letters or researching traditional publishing verses self-publishing? Why not research the big-time editors in your genre? There’s a lot more to writing than the actual act of writing, plotting, world building, and character creation. Researching the business side of it or getting rid of pesky typos and awkward sentences might not be a fun, but if you’re serious about writing as profession, then you can’t ignore those steps (Plus, it will motivate you to just pick one so you can go back to the fun stuff!).
5. Think About the Market: I’d use this one as a last resort, and it only applies to people who want to get published. Keeping tabs on the market is always a good thing, but don’t let it rule your writing life. The reason something is on “trend” right now is because someone wrote a great story that no one else did and created that trend. Anyways, there is some wisdom in considering what is selling and what isn’t and what point you’re at in your career. Selling a single novel with spin-off or sequel potential is a lot more likely than selling your ten book series that spans three generations. If it really comes down to it, pick the idea you think is the easiest to sell for you at your point in your career and whatever the market is doing.
So, what do you think of these ideas? Are there any other ways you use to pick one idea over the other? Please tell me below, I could use your help!