Wednesday, March 6, 2013

IWSG: Choosing


For some time now, I've been unable to settle on a new project.  When I think one up, I'm so excited about the possibilities!  But as I ponder it for a few weeks, it loses that shiny-new-idea quality, and my inner editor says: "Not good enough. It won't get you an agent (editor, publisher, readers, etc.). Find a better one."

And I think up a new one, and toss it away, and another, toss it away, and another, ad infinitum.

How do you choose a new project?  Do you start writing even if you're not convinced it's good enough?



This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate. To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group.

64 comments:

Lara said...

Maybe you should just start writing, rather than pondering for a few weeks. Once you get into the story, you might not be able to talk yourself out of it as easily... Good luck! :)

Mark Means said...

I agree with Lara....get it out there and see where it goes. I just might go to a place you really like and, if not, you're out nothing but some time.

I have a folder with all sorts of projects that I may, or may not, get to someday. I'd never throw away an idea until I, at least, gave it a shot...so, give it a shot!

Natalie Aguirre said...

My first project is middle grade. I chose my second because it's YA, has a minority character, and is urban fantasy vs. high fantasy. I thought it might be easier to get an agent with. Maybe you should pick what excites you the most and put some words on the page. Ultimately I got stuck trying to outline and ending up typing Chapter One and starting mine. Not that it's going fast.

T. Drecker said...

*hehehe* The last five months I've started 4 WIPS. 2 just didn't feel right even after 25,000 words. I kept pounding at them, but disliked where they were going more and more. The other 2, are simply fun and I love writing them. If I have an idea, I just start writing, worrying about writing an outline first after 1 or 2 chapters are done. Usually, somewhere (latest 25,000 words), I know if I want to really write it or not. And nope, it's not wasted time. Those words go into a folder for future reference. Who knows? Maybe in a few years they'll suddenly blossom :)

Annalisa Crawford said...

The most important thing is to never fully give up. Like Mark says above, keep those ideas because you might come back to them or find a way to merge two or three into something awesome.

Clay said...

I do this! However one day, I went with that restless writers urge for a while. I said 'let's write this one out right now Clay! Lets do it!' I wrote a beautiful biopic passage that would be my new baby. I was burst with plot, complications and a great scene in hospital. Everything so vivid I could touch it. Everything was great. Then after a couple of days. I forgot about it. That was a month ago and I have NOT continued with it since. Maybe I will pick it up later. Looking over the comments I'm on the 'write' track. Thanks for sharing Lexa. Cheers

Dianne K. Salerni said...

It's tough to decide sometimes, and worse if you start thinking about the market -- what will sell, what the market is already gutted in, etc. Score a wonderful contract that happens to have a non-compete clause in it, and you might find one entire category of story is currently off-limits.

From November of 2011 to February of 2012, I wrote 55k words in a story that went nowhere and abandoned it. I gave it another look this summer and decided, yup, it needs to stay dead unless I someday come up with an entirely new twist on it. That kind of thing happens sometimes, but at least I learned something while writing it.

So, sometimes, it might be good to try out the Shiny New Idea just for the sake of writing.

Kelly Hashway said...

I keep tweaking the idea until I feel it's good enough and I'm excited about it.

Carissa Taylor said...

I'm going through the same thing a bit right now. I'm waiting on one manuscript that's out querying and in July will have time to start really diving into another.

I guess usually I don't try to force it. I'll look at my list of story ideas and see which one sounds fun. Sometimes it's one MS for a few days and then another. I just go with what I'm passionate about at the time! Then usually one will take hold and I'll dig in for a while.

Al Diaz said...

I start with a faint idea. My clear sign that I should pick that up is that it has me bouncing up and down like a kid just thinking on all the possibilities. That certainly means all the rest will come sooner or later.

L.G. Smith said...

I have to have some sort of emotional impetus to write a story. And that I think carries over into theme later as I write. If I can't find that emotional attachment, I can't stay interested in the writing long enough to finish a novel. Usually that attachment comes through the character and what they want I think.

Nickie said...

I have a hard time picking new projects, too, but even if I'm uncertain about an idea, I start writing a little bit for it. Sometimes I throw together a rough outline, sometimes it's a few lines of dialogue from a character, and sometimes it's a whole scene. Then I try to take a step back to see if it's an idea that I love enough to keep working with.

E. Arroyo said...

I used to be like that. If a shiny new idea dulls, I stop and plot it out to see if I have a full length story here. I add interesting characters doing wild things that keep my interest. And it usually takes off. If not, then I write what's in my head and try to fit it into a shorter story and file it away, or try publishing the short. I found that those smaller ideas usually fit into a larger one. =)

Suze said...

We all can only speak from our own experience on this one and all I have to say is that when you hit on the right one, it won't let you go.

Natasha Hanova said...

I think it's great that you're coming up with ideas. Perhaps instead of tossing them to the side, you can ask "What would make this idea better?" or figure out what about it makes you want to toss it aside, and finesse it into something better. It's a lot like cooking. You taste it and figure out what seasonings it needs to make it even better. Good luck with your writing, Lexa.

Kate Larkindale said...

I usually write a scene. Whatever scene sparked the idea in the firs place. Usually, by the time I've finished that, I know where I need to go from there. And how to get to that point.

nutschell said...

I just write down whatever ideas pop up in my head, hoping to find time to work on all of them!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Alexandra Lanc said...

I think the truth is, it's never going to be good enough. We're always going to have our inner editor saying that it sucks, that we should give up. But when you love a story, you're willing to work on it and make it the best that it can be. It's not easy, and it's time consuming, but in the end, it leaves you will a smile on your face.

Best,

Alexandra~

EW Gibson said...

The story I'm working on I started with a character that kept following me around. I was and still consumed by this character, anyway that's how I began the present my present wip. So, I guess the character choose me, if that's at all possible.

My favorite quote from Galaxy Quest: Never give up. Never surrender.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I treat a new project like going to the pound for a puppy. I let it choose me. That way it's a good fit!

Patsy said...

I start writing - it's not until I start that I can tell if it'll work.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Most of the time,the idea comes to me through a little voice that whispers in my ear, or something I read in the newspaper or magazine, or other ways. Then I talk to the character to see what they tell me and we start his/her story. It may change along the way and usually does.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Sometimes just a change of scenery helps. Taking a walk on a nice day could provide inspiration, or even people watching in a shopping center may strike a chord. Good luck Lexa!

Julie

Chris said...

I've started and scrapped a lot of projects, but not because of their publication potential. Sometimes certain stories capture my current mood, which could easily swing in the opposite direction before I return to writing it. Other times a story requires great detail and/or research, and I don't always have time to do it justice.

If you're not passionate about the story you're working on, set it aside for a while. Maybe you'll return to it with a fresh perspective, or maybe it will grow stale. Or maybe one idea will lead you to something even better!

DMS said...

My comment wouldn't go through- so I am trying again. :)

I jot down my ideas good or bad and keep them in case I want to develop them later. If I like an idea I think about it for a little while and then try to outline/brainstorm. Good luck! :)

Cathy Keaton said...

I think I used to have this problem. Yep, I did. I don't anymore because I finally went back to an old idea for a story that I had dropped twice, but it was the idea that made me want to become an author. Or, at least it was what made me start doing research and reaching out to the community around here. I've had to change about 50% of it by now, but I feel grounded in this story and able to actually commit to it!

So, maybe you need to find just the right idea that will make you want to commit to it for some reason. Perhaps and old idea needs some refurbishing and it'll be perfect. ;)

Stephen Hayes said...

I've noticed that whenever I talk to anyone about a project swirling around in my head, I never complete it. It's so easy to talk yourself out of something and you never really know what's going to appear until it does. I try and focus on writing what makes me happy, then if no one likes it at least I've pleased myself.

Carol Kilgore said...

I don't usually begin writing right away. Before I write I have to know something about the characters. I also need a timeline, even if it changes. I need the major plot points and twists. And the ending. My CP plunges in - LOL.

Good luck!

Tia Bach said...

It's tough. When a new idea comes, it's so exciting. But as you start trying to plan it out, the idea can often lose it's luster. That's probably why I'm not much of a planner. I get the idea, and I start writing the book. As it develops and takes new twists and turns, I stay interested and engaged. When I try too much planning, I lose confidence and stamina.

Best of luck!

My IWSG Post

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Great question. I have so many old projects that tackling a new one isn't such a problem. But I do find that my ideas evolve and devolve over time, so I am okay running with a new idea - knowing it may take a different form, or I may drop it altogether. Were I that girl in the picture, though, I'd stand frozen and indecisive for hours. =)

Be well, Lexa.
xoRobyn

Scribbles From Jenn said...

I've never chosen a project all three chose me before they knew how loooong it would take me to give them life. Since I'm not published, I'm not sure if it's a good choice. Time will tell. Nice post!

Katja Weinert said...

I developed writers' block with the stress of wondering whether what was in my mind had been done before, or would be trendy. I've finally reached a stage where I don't overthink the question of who will like it. When I write now it's for the story and not the publication/for the journey and not the destination.

J. A. Bennett said...

I don't write anything that my heart isn't into. Sometimes I plan out several books, look at lots of pictures and read lots of books until something comes to me. It's harder to finish a project you're not invested in. Better to take the time to focus on finding the right book to work on :)

Cecilia Robert said...

Right after a project, I go through the other outlined projects in my PC and read through, then snag the one that sounds appealing. Which is always very difficult because the more I read each one of them the more I think 'Oh my goodness, I think I'll work on them a the same time' :( Tossing ideas in the shower helps though. :D I'd say, follow your heart. :)

M. J. Joachim said...

Yes, and you let your spirit and surroundings dictate the words too...

Candilynn Fite said...

Ack, that's a tough one to answer Lexa. I'm sort of in the same boat right now. I'm supposed to be working on a MG novel...but just not feeling it. I keep going back to shiny ideas for new picture books. *rolls eyes at self*

So I feel for ya. I really do. I will say this, breaking open my copy of Stephen King's ON WRITING seems to help. He doesn't tell me how to choose, but his words light the fire under my butt and I always walk away with a clear mind.

Happy IWSG post day. :)

Pk Hrezo said...

Oh the writer's conundrum! I usually spend a long time outlining an idea that nags me to see how far I want to go with it. Currently I've got 2 ideas outlined complete with character profiles, and just had a shiny new idea pop up and say, "Hey this would be cool!" Ho-hum. What's a girl to do?? I'm gonna go ahead and flesh out this new idea and then pick one and start writing. If I can't get into it, I'll move on to the next......

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It takes me forever to hit upon a new idea. Probably why I don't produce more books than I do. Sometimes it takes just the right one though. Keep searching - you'll find it.

meradeth said...

Love that image! It's so perfect :) I've definitely been there, though lately it's been less of a choice which project I take on--mostly I sit down to write about something so that I can shut up the voice/scene/idea before it makes me bonkers. If I finish it, well, that's another story. Depends on if that shiny idea last that long!

Medeia Sharif said...

I have to feel strongly about an idea to begin a draft. In the past I would start and stop drafts because I didn't have that strong pull, which meant unfinished projects. Now I know better.

Lexie C. said...

I can really relate to this! A shiny new idea/project is so irresistible to me but quickly loses it's luster and I'm searching for the next new shiny. Maybe just writing out whatever comes in that exciting new-shiny phase would yield great stuff before the idea fades.
Best wishes your way! :)

Shannon Lawrence said...

I choose my project by what smacks me in the face and tells me NOW! I have lots of ideas, but they seem to stand up at different times (well, not always true--there is one smacking me now, but I have to ignore it).

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

tfwalsh said...

Choosing the right project is so hard... maybe follow your gut instinct and kick the inner-editor aside - write what you love and enjoy:)

mlswift.me said...

I always move from story to story until they all get done. Great post, Lexa!

Kim Van Sickler said...

Good question. My latest projects have resulted from brainstorms that excite me and my initial research indicates there could be a market for. I try to work on at least one project and read up on/research another one at the same time. There really is so much more involved with writing than the actual process of writing!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I would say just start writing on the project that interests you most at the moment you put pen to paper or hands to keyboard. Write on it for an hour or so, and then sit back and see if it still has your interest. If it does, stick with it for a while, and see. That's what I do. Sometimes I admit I hit a dead end, but at least the other ideas are there waiting for me to come back to them. And sometimes I find a way to stick seemingly unrelated ideas together . .

Julie Flanders said...

Oh my gosh, I feel like I could have written this post too. I've been driving myself crazy lately because I can't focus on one project and just get busy, I keep tossing everything away. I jump from one to another and end up getting nowhere.

I love this picture you've included. I'd never be able to choose if I was this little girl! :D

Angeline Trevena said...

I'm a lot like this - those shiny new ideas are so exciting at first. But if you reject every one, you won't ever write anything. When you jot down ideas, make sure you write down what excites you about the idea so that you can remind yourself once the novelty wears off.

Kim Lajevardi said...

I agree with the other posters about writing your ideas out, but I actually think you should write all of your ideas out. If you complete a modified fifteen for fifteen with yourself, you can compare all of your ideas side by side. Once you can really feel out the idea, you'll know which one to expand upon.

DL Hammons said...

I heavily outline before I start writing, and that's when I determine if its really going to be my next project or not. If I can't make the outline shape into something I can get excited about, then its time to move on. :)

celeste holloway said...

I'm like you, Lexa, I'll get an idea cooking, but if it fizzles, I let it go. Only if one keeps speaking to me, do I start writing. I'm not an outline kind of writer. I just sit down and go to work. I never know what will happen. I think it's a lot funner that way. :)

Nas said...

My writing never sees the light of day yet my editing does!

All the best, Lexa! Great post!

Elise Fallson said...

I hate outlining, but maybe that may help you settle on a project. Or you could just go with the one that won't let you sleep at night. The one that screams the loudest in your head. Good luck Lexa!

Jocelyn Rish said...

I have the same problem. Although I hope you aren't actually tossing the ideas away and are filing them away for future contemplation. When I get a new idea, I open a new word doc and just type away. It might be the title, it might be the logline, maybe just a character sketch, or even roughing out a scene or two - basically whatever it was that got me excited in the first place. So even if I decide it's not right project right now, I'll have the reminder of the idea for when it might be the right time.

Sean McLachlan said...

I usually have two or three projects going at once and when I'm not feeling inspired by one, I work on another. Generally I have a less-challenging project that acts as my fallback for when I'm feeling lazy. Strangely, these sell just as well as my more challenging projects.

Misha Gericke said...

That's probably somewhere in the top three reasons why I draft by hand and pants at the same time. An idea needs time to grow. They'll keep dying in the fetal stage if your IE keeps shooting them down.

Just remember one thing. Your idea might be generic now, but as you write, you might just find something about it that makes it amazing. Maybe you should just try pantsing for a few days and see where the ideas take you. Writing it down really does keep the IE quiet enough for you to see if the idea is worth exploring. What do you have to lose? Maybe something you write will intrigue you.

SA Larsenッ said...

L - all the time. I've finally decided on concentrating on my sequel and a few PBs. The PBs are a break from the longer development of the novel. But it's been hard getting to this point. I sent my revisions to my agent in November and only made the above decision in February. Everything I started to develop before then came to a screeching halt. Every stinking time. So yeah, I get it. More than willing to brainstorm and exchange at some point, if you need to.

Tara Tyler said...

i jot down the ideas and the ones i really like, i start an outline for. can i build it into a full novel? or is it just a short story?

and reading blake snyders "save the cat" i am getting tons of advice on what to do before i start writing a new one!

Heather Ostler said...

I know exactly how you feel! This is something I really struggle with. Sometimes I have to write the most exciting scene of each story idea and then go from there. Either a novel will start to form, or I won't be passionate enough to build up to that scene.

~Jennifer~ said...

I can definitely relate. I think if you start writing, even if you tell yourself it isn't good enough, it can turn into something you're happy with. You never know until you start writing. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies, but we can also be our own best friends. :)

Cherie Reich said...

When I think of a new idea, I try to squash it before I start writing it. I know that sounds weird, but that way I can tell if an idea has merit. If I find myself still thinking about the idea or seeing scenes form, then I might write a few notes. If the idea sticks with me for quite some time (six months or more), then I know it might be one to add to my writing queue. But I'm such a plotter that I need to have this percolation time. Otherwise, it'll be a big mess.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Hi, Lexa. Just wanted to let you know that you've won an ebook copy of The Magic Warble. Please send me your email address so I can give it to Victoria. Congratulations. Enjoy the read. My email is Beverlysmcclure (at) aol (dot) com.

Beth said...

So nearly a year ago, I needed to come up w/ a concept for a writing class. Catherine Stine told me to brainstorm 20 ideas and choose a handful that I liked best then brainstorm ten plot points and use what would work best. I brainstormed 20 ideas and came up with some really good ones, but I had less than a day to commit to something and write the proposal. We had a clear front runner, so my husband and I brainstormed ten plot points for that. This is the project that got my agent. Hope this helps.

Ravena Guron said...

I've always just written was I loved. As long as it was good enough for me, I got it written. Sometimes I wrote things I knew I could sell but even then they were things I was EXCITED about writing. If you don't think it's good enough, maybe you're not excited enough? Regardless of how you feel at the end about it, I think you should always have a burning excitement at the beginning.

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