Choosing the Next Book to Write

28 Aug

If you’re a writer, you probably have more than one piece in that head of yours that you want to get out now, but we’re only human. There’s only so much we can do with the time that we’re given. So how do you choose which project to prioritize?

That blank page can look so intimidating, can’t it??? But it’s so exciting too!

Honestly, I have more than one method to picking THE book I want to spend most of my energy on. I say “most” because I’m almost always working on a couple projects at a time. Outlining here, while writing there, while editing elsewhere. But there’s always one project I’m putting more energy into than the others. (Generally the one I’m writing or revising.) So I thought I’d cover the main two ways I pick this book.

1. Choose the Loudest One

First and foremost, I consider which one of my books is the loudest. Which one is demanding the most attention? Which one has characters that are screaming at you to tell their story? Which ones are your beta readers begging for? Which one is the marketplace waiting for? I only mention the market, because I think it’s important to (at least) consider the market when choosing a novel. Granted, I don’t think it’s THE most important thing, but, as an example, if you were choosing between writing a dystopian book or a science fiction one right now, science fiction would probably be the safer bet, since most editors/publishers/agents are still holding off on dystopian. However, I also believe that if you truly have an extremely unique bent on the dystopian genre that you could make it. So don’t let the market choose your next work. (In other words, don’t chase trends.) Chase your heart. (And those loud books.) But it’s okay to question the loudest book, too.

2. Dabble in All of Them

If I don’t have a manuscript that’s particularly louder than the others (or I’m not sure I want to work on the loudest one), I dabble in all of them until one gets louder than the others…or I choose one to work in for awhile to see if it clicks, then move on, then move on…until one feels right. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out if something is working out at all. Right now, I’m about halfway through the hardest manuscript I’ve ever written, so I’ve definitely questioned whether this is the “right” project for me to be working on, but I love it. I love everything about it. And I love the challenge. So even though it’s not as loud or easy or obvious, my gut ended up picking it out of everything else in the end. (And I haven’t given up yet.)

Lastly, if it doesn’t work out…

Don’t beat yourself up. You might write whole novels that don’t work out, but it’s never a waste of your time. You will learn something from each piece you write, and you will get better and better, and you will always have new ideas.

You are not defined by your current project.

Switch directions if you need to. Take some time off. Clear your head. And then come back and choose a new project again.

The choice is only the beginning of an amazing journey.

Feel free to share how you choose below!

~SAT

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14 Responses to “Choosing the Next Book to Write”

  1. misspixiie August 28, 2017 at 12:46 am #

    Loved this. Such a simple concept and I think it applies to other writing projects also.

    • Shannon A Thompson August 28, 2017 at 12:53 am #

      Absolutely! I use this for poetry (and even these articles) as well. Thank you for reading and commenting.
      ~SAT

  2. Jordan August 28, 2017 at 1:08 am #

    Such a great piece! It is so real! I loved the concept of choosing the loudest project. I’ll probably always have a million snatches of a million different stories in my head, but there is always one that’s crying out just a little bit louder. Thank you!

    • Shannon A Thompson August 28, 2017 at 1:11 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it! My projects eventually get louder, too. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience!
      ~SAT

  3. Charles Yallowitz August 28, 2017 at 4:51 am #

    Just came out of this issue and I like the dabbling option. It helped to put up some synopses on my blog to get feedback and see which of the top ideas got more interest. Didn’t help too much, but at least it showed all of the ideas had merit.

  4. cheapcameraguy August 28, 2017 at 8:22 am #

    Enjoyed your article. For myself, I find the dabbling idea works pretty well for me. However, I’ve been tempted to focus on those stories with the most words already written (part of my impatience gene). To help me work through this issue, I try to get an overarching outline of each story with character synopses (i.e., does the character live and breathe yet). I find the characters who cry out for their stories to be heard move up to the top for me. Just another way to look at it, I suppose.

    • Shannon A Thompson August 28, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

      Word count is an important factor! Thank you for mentioning it. 🙂
      ~SAT

  5. Don Massenzio August 28, 2017 at 8:41 am #

    Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this great post by Author Shannon A. Thompson on choosing the next book to write from her blog.

  6. debyfredericks August 28, 2017 at 9:44 am #

    So true, I have three projects I can’t decide between. Dabbling it us…

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