If you’re a NaNoWriMo person like myself, this month is known as NaNoPrepMo. I will be sharing with you a four part series on developing your story idea. This is a glimpse into my Story Flight Path coaching program, and something we would go through together if you were to ever book a Story Strategy Session.
To kick off this series, today you are going to learn all the fun ways I’ve used over the years to choose which story idea to work on next.
Because, let’s face it, sometimes deciding just what to write next comes with its own set of demotivating feelings, distractions, and just plain old stuckedness (not a word, but now it is?).
Even for authors writing a series, there could potentially be some wiggle room as to which book in the series comes next. Or maybe you write multiple seriesesesesessss and you aren’t sure which one you want to focus on for your next release.
These tactics–I love that word, in case you didn’t know–are also useful if you get stuck between two potential plot paths, need to make a decision about how your book ends, any decisions really, but for the sake of focus, I’ll be talking about using them to pick your next story.
We are authors. We have a slew of story ideas. Notebooks (analog or digital or both) full of ideas for our next great written adventure. How to choose when two (or more!) ideas are vying for your attention?
12 ways to choose your next (story) adventure:
- Roll some dice – If you have two ideas to choose between, assign one idea the even numbers and the other idea the odd. Roll a single dice and pick your story.
- Pick from a hat – If you have more than two ideas, write them on slips of paper and put them in a hat or bowl. Pick one. That’s your next story.
- Chat with a friend – Enlist the help of a trusted friend who is familiar with your work. Tell them your ideas and get their input on which one to write.
- Take a vote – If you have a newsletter you send on a regular basis, ask your subscribers to vote. Whichever option gets the most votes is your next story.
- Meditate on it – Ask your higher powers for help, then sit in silence and breathe deeply. Whatever images or thoughts come in, let them.
- Ask the cards – Use a story deck or tarot cards for guidance on what your next story should be. If the images suggest one idea over another, you have your next story
- Explore each idea – Take some time to write about each idea to explore the possible scenes and characters. From there, pick the one that most excites you.
- Move your body – Go for a walk and dissociate for a bit. Let your mind wander. Typically, you will think about the story that you should write next.
- Eeny Meeny Miny Mo – Remember that old childhood way to pick something or someone? Take your list of ideas and “eeny meeny miny moe” until there’s only one left.
- Incubate – In the morning, ask yourself, which story idea you should work on. Then, forget about it. Go about your day, but pay attention to your daydreams and subconscious thoughts.
- Talk it out – Record yourself talking about each idea as if you’re telling a friend. Listen to the recordings. You will hear which idea most excites you.
- Write it down – Write the “back cover copy” for each story. Whichever one was easier or more exciting to write, that is your next story.
Remember this, my friend. Most often you already know which idea you want to write next, but using these tactics can help you come to that realization. How?
If you roll a die, pick from a hat, or take a vote and you aren’t excited about the result, you know you want to write the other idea.
But if you are truly truly madly deeply torn, using some of the other ideas (writing it down, talking it out, exploring each idea) will help you get excited.
You could always be daring and crazy and work on both at the same time. Who says you can’t? Maybe your brain, but this could be a fun way to keep the proverbial creative well full, right? Consider this, you’re working on one story and it stalls out in that murky middle area we all fear. So you switch over to the other story until the same thing happens. Perhaps your time away from the first idea was rekindled during your creative foray into the second idea?
Just a thought!
I’ve created a fun resource for you to accompany this post. It’s in the FREE Resource Library. It has a cheat sheet of all these tactics, plus a worksheet to help you dig into some data behind your ideas to see which one lights you up the most.
This post is Part 1 of a story prep series. For the other parts see below!