How to Deal with What to Write Next-itis

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Hello, All! Today is the first Wednesday of the month so you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Writers from all over unite to unfurl our fears and insecurities uponst the world. You should join us!

The IWSG cohosts for this month are Lauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy Wilks, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard!

And if you missed it yesterday,  IWSG cohost and poet Lidy Wilks kicked off her blog tour right here on Quanie Talks Writing. I hope you’ll check out her post on how she’s been building her platform as a poet and enter the giveaway for her poetry chapbook, Can You Catch My Flow?

So. Here I am on this lovely 2nd of March, pulling my hair out over what novel to write next. Last week I wrote about the horror novel in progress that probably needs a switch in POV (as awesome blogger Diedre Knight brilliantly suggested), but that novel isn’t necessarily next in the que, if you Netflixers get what I mean. Writing is a lot like dating; you go out for coffee a few times and realize that even though you kinda sorta like the manuscript, you’re not exactly ready to commit, and then you abandon it (or stop calling, whatever your process may be), only to wonder several months later, “I wonder what’s going on with that first person narrative paranormal story about the guy with the missing toe? I wonder how he’s doing? I should totally check in.”

Well, that’s how it’s been for me. Lots of hits and misses these days (and a dream the other night about a possible sequel to The New Mrs. Collins). And to make matters worse? All of these story ideas are…good! And that’s my problem. It’s like trying to choose your favorite child. They’re all my favorites!

I’ve been racking my brain about this and I’ve asked myself some questions to try to come to a solution:

  1. What makes sense in terms of a follow up to my upcoming release? Based on that particular book, what might readers want to see next?
  2. What book is the most “ready” of the bunch?
  3. Of all the ideas that I have, what’s the “best” one? (The hardest question to answer.)
  4. Of all the ideas that I have, what might be the easiest project to tackle (I ask myself this as my muse laughs like Darth Vader in the background).
  5. The worst question of them all: which book is the most “commercially viable”? This is something that no one knows the answer to. I could totally write the novel about the guy with the missing toe and if it skyrockets on the best seller’s list, publishers will be asking you all for stories about hunters with no big toe. Nobody can call it!

These questions are a good place to start (even though some of the answers conflict), but my biggest issue is something that I’ve touched on here before: the fact that I unintentionally write in multiple genres. This isn’t something I do because I get bored and like to switch it up; my muse has a wicked sense of humor and GNFs (gives no f*cks) about me building a loyal audience by writing and publishing books in the same genre. Nope. My muse is gangsta like that. In fact, after I’ve written a romantic comedy, southern paranormal, and mystery/suspense (upcoming), my muse is now trying to get me to write a dystopian novel, because as I’ve said,  GNFs.

So that’s where I am, you guys. Spinning my wheels and dealing with this huge bout of what to write next-itis. Any suggestions for me? How do you guys deal when you’re not certain which project to tackle next? What are some things that help you decide? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


30 thoughts on “How to Deal with What to Write Next-itis

  1. Oog, I am completely with you on this. >_< I have so many different things in so many stages of progress, it's amazing ever I figure out what to write next. But you hit upon the one thing that decides it for me: what book is most "ready" to write. I don't get started on anything until I have a fully fleshed-out plot and know all the characters well enough to tell their stories. And that takes a long time. But I've learned it's the only way I get anything good.
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..IWSG: It’s Supposed to be Hard.My Profile

  2. I don’t know how you guys do it…the decision is usually made for me. As in, “No, you can’t do that” and, “No, that’s not the right fit for us.” So basically I send a list of ideas to my agent, she picks one. I send her one and we work on it for a while and we send that partial to my publisher…who either takes it or not. In the meantime, it’s “what am I supposed to do right now?” itis! If I had to make those decisions without someone telling me “no,” I’d have no idea what to do. LOTS of pressure.
    Stephanie Faris recently posted..Cover Reveal: Out of the Ashes by Kelly HashwayMy Profile

    • Hi Linda, welcome! So glad you’re enjoying the blog hop. I agree with you that sticking to one genre could possibly be boring (especially if a writer has fallen out of love with said genre and is just writing to appease fans), but I know that having several books in the same genre is a terrific way to build a loyal fan base. I’ll get there (eventually!).
      Quanie recently posted..How to Deal with What to Write Next-itisMy Profile

  3. Yup, I’m pretty much in the same spot myself. I have three books outlined that I “could” start next, but can’t for the life of me decide which one. I’m asking myself the same questions you list. I also have a rough first draft of another book I could go back to, but I know it’s going to take a lot of work to bring it together and part of me wants to try something new. Not to mention I have dozens of other ideas on the back burner…

    So I’m really not the best person to suggest a solution…

    IWSG March

    • I feel you! My back burner needs a back burner now! I have an idea (my first attempt at a novel) that I had been thinking about going back to, but every time I revisit it, I vacillate between, “This is brilliant!” and “This is crap!” So for now, I have banished it to the land that time forgot. Thanks for stopping by:)
      Quanie recently posted..How to Deal with What to Write Next-itisMy Profile

  4. Gosh, I hear you. I remember being at that place where I wondered what to try and get out there first. (That was a first, but it applies here too.) I’ve got 4 or 5 books sitting in my coffers just waiting to see the daylight–ones that could probably do well if they could just be unleashed. BUT there are deadlines and priorities. Best of luck discerning which project to go with next!
    Crystal Collier recently posted..Shocking Facts about Time & IWSGMy Profile

  5. Excellent post, Quanie! I love how you’ve listed every burning question every writer has, as if to say “See? Everyone has these questions” Thinking it was probably something one gets at a beauty parlor, I’ve never given much thought to ‘commercial viability’. But, like you, I write – and read – in multiple genres, so how in the world could a line be drawn anyhow? I’m with Lidy on the question of what to finish first; the squeakiest wheel of course! The one that comes to mind; unbidden, most often 🙂
    Thank you for the nod, my friend. What a kind and unexpected gesture!
    diedre recently posted..Out of CharacterMy Profile

    • I have a severe bout of spring fever at the moment (and spring ain’t even here yet!) so I’ve had some issues concentrating and even deciding which story idea is occupying my mind the most. I know the feeling won’t last forever. I guess I’ll just have to wait until it passes. Thanks for stopping by:)
      Quanie recently posted..How to Deal with What to Write Next-itisMy Profile

  6. I’m intrigued by the guy with the missing big toe. You have great questions to ask yourself and you jump into the next project. You really need to go with your gut. Which story is calling you the most and wants your attention?

    Good luck!

    Mary at Play off the Page

    IWSG co-host, thanks for stopping by my blog today.

    • Hi Mary, thanks so much for stopping by! This process is maddening and now that I think about it, it happens to me every time I’ve just finished a book; I’m deciding between four or five projects and it seems that I’ll never pick one, and then one day–out of nowhere–I will have absolute clarity about what to write next. But in the meanwhile? Woo! Agony!
      Quanie recently posted..How to Deal with What to Write Next-itisMy Profile

  7. I have a list of over 50 story ideas that are waiting for me. 10 of them are most important and out of those I view 5 as urgent. But I can only devote time to one. Having to choose which one right now is easy as I’m trying to get all of the books for my series out in a timely manner. After that, I’ll have to decide which ones would be best to bring out into the publishing word at that time. It’s not easy having to make the decision.

    Good luck!

  8. Ah, next-itis. I understand. I have a list of ideas inspired by dreams or articles or from a lightning bolt of what if this happened. And they’re all different genres. I currently have 3 writing projects: a contemporary adult romance, a YA supernatural and a YA urban/portal fantasy novella. My other story ideas I haven’t tackled yet are a paranormal mystery, a history thriller, a mythological adventure fantasy, a pyro mafia thriller and the list goes on. Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to do series over stand alones. It should be easier to figure what to write next if the book is a series right? But to figure out what’s next I prefer to go by which idea has been occupying the most. That I’m itching to get to because there’s a storyline(s), subplot(s) or anything that I want to explore. Second is what’s easy. And last is what’s commercially viable because I’m with JK Rowling when she said, “In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I’m writing. I just write what I want to write.”

    • So I’m not alone??? Thank goodness! In terms of writing a series over stand alone books, I’m not sure if a series would be “easier” to write (because each book still has to stand on its own to some extent), but I think that in terms of building a fan base, a series is certainly better than a stand alone title in cases where readers get attached to characters. But those cliff hanger endings? Hate them!
      Quanie recently posted..How to Deal with What to Write Next-itisMy Profile

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