So Many Ideas, But Which One Do I Write?

Happy November!

It’s my birthday month, and all my favorite stores have already been making me feel special with an influx of coupons and rewards. If you’d like to do something nice as well, check out my November newsletter, out today, for a list of 10 ways you can support authors. I’d love for you to pick one of these items to support me, but if you’ve already checked them all off, well, first of all, you’re AWESOME, but pick one to do for another author or two you enjoy!

Now, on to this month’s topic. A few weeks ago, I sent my current work in progress off to a second round of readers, which left me wondering what I would work on next. The thing is, I have no shortage of ideas. Seriously, you should see the running list of story ideas in my Notes app. It’s so random. Sometimes I’m watching a movie/TV show or reading a book and think of a way I might twist that differently. Or I might be in a store, witness an interaction between two people, and it sparks an idea for a catalyst or event in a story. Or I overhear an interesting conversation or my teens tell me about an incident at school. I write it all down. Sometimes the idea is a single line. Every once in a while it’s a paragraph with bullet points underneath or even a sample scene. Occasionally I get so inspired by an idea I create a new note for it. Like this one that ultimately became My Second Impression of You. I don’t know exactly when I had the idea for the book, because the note with the general idea is in my long list, but I obviously kept returning to it and had this thought (at midnight!) for the scene where Maggie’s running out of Starbucks. It’s very close to the words in the final book on page 6 😊. Some of the other stuff in the second paragraph changed because I didn’t break my foot until a few weeks after I wrote this note, and that inspired the other half of the story premise. According to Scrivener, I created the file and started seriously planning the book in September 2019. Which seems about right, because when I look back through my emails with my agent, that’s exactly when I had sent off another project to her (more on that below). I never have just one project going unless I have some other kind of deadline and/or travel in between.

Usually when I’m ready to start writing something new, I browse through my list of story ideas, and a particular idea will grab me. Typically it’s one of these ideas I expanded on with bullet points or a scene. Back in September of 2019, it was clearly MSIOY 😊.

Since then, I’ve worked on four other projects. First, I went back to the one I had started before MSIOY. It hadn’t been working, and I thought I could make it work, but unfortunately not. Still worth the effort I put into it! Second, I returned to that book of my heart I’ve mentioned on the blog before. While my agent was reading it, I started brainstorming another project from my idea file, but I was having trouble figuring out where to go with it. I really like the idea, and I even wrote a few sample scenes, but I ultimately decided to set that idea aside for now. Which brings us to the fourth idea, which has an interesting origin story.I saw a TikTok from Kara McDowell about how she decided on the premise for The Prince & The Apocalypse. Another author (sorry, don’t remember who) told her to write a list of 100 things she would like to write about and mix together three favorites, and that’s how she ended up with her novel–because why wait to write about all your favorite things? So I put everything from my story idea note into a spreadsheet (have I mentioned how much I love spreadsheets?). Then I added a few other locations and random things I enjoy reading about that I would also like to write about. It’s more than 100 rows 😊. There’s a particular idea that was rising to the top, but I couldn’t decide what else to throw in with it. On a whim, I had my teen son look through the list and told him to pick three to four things. He picked the idea I was already leaning toward (there’s a reason for that, and if this book ever gets published, I’ll totally explain), but the other two were quite intriguing, so I started playing around with them and plotting a story. That book is the YA mystery currently out with a second set of readers. It’s a different genre for me, and I’m still figuring it out, but I’ve had so much fun trying something new!What will be next after that? Well, since I already had the spreadsheet, I decided to make it even more organized with all the new ideas I’ve had since last year. But maybe that’s a topic for another month…

Fellow writers, I’m curious how you decide what to write next. Tell me in the comments! And readers, what do you most enjoy reading about? Maybe I’ll add your ideas to my list!

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