Monday, January 12, 2015

How do you choose your next WIP?

Writing the book was exhausting. And fun. And blah blah blah. But now it's done. Yay! And published. Unbelievable! And then it was back to work on the second one - or ten.

But I couldn't get going. My MG writing languished, but not for lack of material - or ideas. Quite the opposite was true. Making myself focus on one book was giving me fits. It was quite frustrating and it felt impossible to go in any particular direction.

Because the ideas and characters for competing stories wouldn't leave me alone, I wrote. But still, I couldn't find my direction. I badly wanted to be working on my next book - perhaps too badly. I didn't want to waste time - or words, but still, I couldn't find THE THING that would be next REAL WIP. Maybe I just needed to find that one plot line or character around which everything else could be written!

Could I find a way? Maybe. But I approached my second novel with the assumption that it would fly off my fingers as did my first. HA! Wrong.

Since it was an emotional and personal story, the rough draft of my first book wrote itself in about a month. But I'd had years to consider various elements of TREE ROPER, and even then, revisions took a long time.

When it was done, published, out in the world yada yada, I was ready for that next book to begin. So I searched for that character or premise which I could look straight into its cliche'd eye, shake its metaphorical hand and say "It's you and me to the end."

I thought I'd found it a few times, but after several thousand words into each manuscript, another voice or premise would distract me - SQUIRREL! - and I'd have to jump into a new shiny. After a few months or so (and approximately 50,000 words) I told all those competing ideas to shut it! 

Best. Decision. Ever.

I still wrote, but not with a particular manuscript in mind. I backed off, but I kept notes, wrote backstories, and penned dialogue on the competing ideas.

And, I read some books. (There's nothing like a reading break with a few good novels. You know what I'm talking about.)

And you now what? It worked!

By taking the pressure off myself to focus NOW and write THIS story, I was able to step away a little and breathe. That gave me a fresh look at those crappy, disjointed words and stories I'd been putting down. Though they're mostly crappy, some are better than others and many of them are pointing the way forward with this next book. It's coming together. Slowly.

One plot has gripped my attention longer and stronger than any others, so I'm diving back in with renewed enthusiasm. And I have ideas and material for more books waiting in line.

I'm relieved, and excited, and writing with a purpose again.

And I'm curious. How do you move on to your next WIP? Must you choose from a billion ideas racing throughout your brain or is there ONE BURNING IDEA always waiting, ready to singe your pages?


  1. I have at times gone through periods of not writing, but usually I don't fight it. I read instead, and it usually jump starts the writing again.

    1. I definitely agree. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth.

  2. I wonder if we choose our stories or if they choose us. Just a thought on a Tuesday morning as I'm back to my WIP.

    1. I've never thought about that. But I like it! Thanks, Mirka!