(note: this was originally a twitter thread. You can read the original thread here.)
Since it’s easier to solve other people’s problems than your own, I procrastinated on my own scene problems to listen to another writer’s dilemma about which book to write next. What follows is a trick for figuring out what you should write next in your author journey
So if you’re wondering, “what happens now?” This might help you figure it out
I like to call it “the brightest timeline.”
This is a visualization exercise. Some people likened it to a guided meditation. I’m a strong visualizer, and as a result I usually come up with these plunges into my imagination when I’m trying to choose between options that on the surface feel about equivalent.
Anyway. If you like to get ready for visualization exercise by doing things to prepare your environment, or deep breathing or anything that might go well with this trip into your imagination, it’s time to do that now. I’m going to recommend you have a way to record your thoughts, too. Don’t tell yourself you will remember. Get it on paper/audio.
Ready? Okay. Imagine yourself in ten years, on the brightest author timeline, where you are writing a book. Imagine that this book is hotly anticipated by readers who love what you do. Imagine that you’re exactly where you want to be, in a business context.
Now focus on yourself. You’re sitting or treadmilling at your desk/tablet/handbound paper journal/voice activated dictation system, and you are writing a book. It’s a book that makes you spring out of bed so you can get back to it. You love this book. It’s SO DAMN COOL.
The book is challenging to your skills, endlessly fascinating, and you do a little dance when you think about it.
Now let’s reflect on it. What is that book?
Who is in it? Let one of the characters take the spotlight. Notice the details, and what you understand, just by looking at them.
What are they doing? Take the time to notice what no one else might, but is significant in your eyes.
Where are they? Take a bird’s eye view. Zoom all the way in. Explore the place, looking for the one thing that is significant.
Why is it meaningful? What’s the story about? What is the character telling you?
Why is it cool?
Savor it. Imagine it. Take your time. Record things you want to remember.
Now you’re clever, so you know what I’m about to say next, right?
That’s your next book. Or your next series, if you’re a series writer. Look how good you feel. feel how full and excited you are.
That’s your next book, with all the anxiety and fear stripped away, with none of the forces that tell you “you can’t” getting in your way.
I put you in your brightest timeline because all the worry we have about what comes next is gone. In the brightest timeline, you already dealt with it. this is what you want, without all the noise about The market or genre saturation and all that.
This is your vision. Trust it.
It’s been a long time since I published a craft blog post, but I haven’t quit talking about craft. I made a Patreon account, and I have posts there about things like
- a synopsis writing guide that will help expose structural manuscript problems
- how to evaluate a scene to make sure it’s doing the right things
- how to build a story when all you have is a character
I do a new writing related post every month, available to patrons on a sliding scale basis – pick the level of patronage you can afford and you’re in!
Starting in August I am starting a Live Sessions tier, where I will explore a subject about the craft and business of writing on zoom, where you can ask more questions. Look for it then!