How do you decide what to write next?

March 18-2

I’ve come back to my early morning writing practice after taking a break for a few months. It feels familiar, this commitment to write in the morning, and it also feels completely different this time around.

Since my break, I’ve noticed that my motivations have changed, and so have my curiosities, interests, and observations about people.

I removed the old talismans (acorn, quartz, pinecone) that I gathered when I wrote the first draft of my new novel, and I scattered them in the woods, back where they came from.

That novel has been transcribed from my first draft notebooks, and those scenes are lightly edited and sorted in Scrivener. Now the story is resting, like a not-yet sparkling wine. I’m going to let it ferment in the bottle until fizzy bubbles arise.

I’ve cleaned the surface of my writing desk for this new start, and I’m geekily excited about using my new tools (ink: Lamy Rhodonite Pink; notebook: Paperblanks Aurelia).

This is not avoidance or procrastination. This is what my version of deep contemplation looks like: cleaning, clearing, arranging.

I’m spending a good chunk of time considering paper texture and ink colour in this phase, because the paper and ink themselves are metaphors for the project I’m considering. I’m percolating on starting another big project, and I’m not going to start until it’s ready for me to start.

When the paper feels right, I know I’m getting closer.

It’s good to have a simple ritual to help you make creative decisions.

When you pick up stones from the beach, you’re making decisions about what feels right. What makes you pick up one stone, and not the other one? It’s arbitrary – and yet with each stone you select, you’re making a creative commitment.

I have four writing projects waiting for me: two non-fiction, one for screen, and the novel. I get to decide where to put my energy next, and while I have a hunch about it, I’m still not sure.

Part of my morning practice will be asking myself that question, and paying attention to what my writing wants.

Here are some good questions to ask when you don’t know what to write next:

Where does my energy meet my desire?
Which project feels like the most fun?
What gives me energy when I think about writing it?

At some point I’ll commit to one, and put the others aside for later. I’m giving myself four weeks to consider. I’m not in a rush.

Then I will make a decision. There’s nothing magical about how I come to that decision. I will just decide, and then I will go for it.

Because of course, the decision is the magic.

If you also have multiple works in progress, how do you decide what to work on next?

What does percolation look like for you?

Do you have any rituals to help you decide, or to keep you on track with your decision when obstacles arise?

Please share your thoughts.


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1 comment



This was so inspiring, and such a great summary of how we can help ourselves as we go about making creative decisions. I found all of it so helpful- the questions, keeping a morning journal, the inspiration of choosing paper and ink (is there anyone who writes who’s not a paper, pen, ink junkie?). I will certainly borrow from these  thoughts to make some choices of what to focus on in my own work.  Oh, and putting the talismans back into their rightful place was such a powerful tool for moving on!  Thank you!

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