...When You Have Way Too Many Ideas to Choose From
As someone who used to struggle to come up with a single idea but then became overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer number of story ideas I came up with, I’ve had to find a way to navigate through the realm of choosing writing projects. Each one of my ideas seemed equally important and valuable, and I couldn’t stand the idea of trying to “just pick one and write it,” lest I make the wrong choice, betray one of them for another, or worst of all, let any one of them go.
I had to come up with a process to help me make decisions.
Luckily, as a coach and entrepreneur since 2002, I’ve had my fair share of decision making challenges and support in making those decisions over time. And thankfully, the processes I’ve learned translate brilliantly into choosing writing projects.
(And by “writing projects” I generally mean long form books or screenplays. :) )
In 2015 I wrote a three-part series of blog posts about these methods, called “Choosing Your Next Writing Project.” Writers all over used it to choose their next book or screenplay from among their many, many ideas and found great relief in knowing what to move ahead with next.
Rather than feeling stuck in the paralysis of not being able to choose or having to “give up” any of their ideas, these writers felt empowered to choose and run with that choice.
I've now put together a “reprint” of my original blog posts, edited, updated, and assembled in one place for your ease of reading, along with a step-by-step workbook that will walk you through the process I describe for choosing your next book, or screenplay, which you can download below. (If you prefer, you can read the posts in the original series online here, here, and here.)
Here's what you'll want to know about it:
- This process assumes that you have some number of possible book or screenplay ideas that you’re trying to choose between. If you’re instead in the place of needing to come up with ideas, this particular process won’t be helpful to you yet, though you may want to read it to see if it sparks ideas for you start with. I expect to create a book brainstorming guidebook at some point down the line, so stay tuned if that’s something you need help with. (In the meantime, you might like this post.)
- This process is also specifically designed for choosing among long form writing projects (novels, feature scripts, books, etc.). This is because long form projects tend to trigger a different kind of stuckness than short form projects do (usually because they require less commitment, though there are certainly plenty of ways we can get stuck with short projects too).
- You can read all the posts online without getting the download but you might prefer to have the new guidebook I've put together since I've updated the content and also included a workbook version (both in a PDF you can print out and write on by hand and in an RTF format you can import into Word or Scrivener and work on digitally).
If you're wondering how this works, check out this comment from Naomi Dunford of ittybiz.com, who used the process to choose her next novel project:
“OK, I have more project drama than anybody else on earth. I really don't think I'm exaggerating here. You see, I always wanted to be a writer. The dream was always so big, so real, so important. But sometimes with dreams that visceral, the detail gets lost in the shuffle. In this case, the detail was ‘for God's sake, woman, you know you're going to have to pick something and start, right?’
That one critical element always felled me.
There was nothing I couldn't use as an excuse to avoid picking a project and getting started. Resistance! Procrastination! Yeah-buts! Fear of failure! Fear of success! I've got the whole gamut. It's driven my parents crazy, my kids crazy, and two husbands crazy, too.
But! I went through your exercises and I'm happy to say... I have selected my project, and I feel SO confident about moving forward.
To anybody reading this, if this can work for me, it can work for ANYBODY. I am the Resistance queen of the world, and it even got ME going. That's saying something. Highly recommended.”
Want it for yourself?
Download The Guidebook Here
The Guidebook includes an overview of the process in a PDF format, along with a workbook in a PDF and RTF format. You can import the RTF into Word or Scrivener and work with it there.
Click the image below to download the Guidebook now.