3 (Kind of) Easy Steps to Follow When You Have Too Many Book Ideas
Hi, my name is Mikaela, and I have an addiction to book ideas.
They come in waves, while talking with a friend or washing my hair in the shower. I can’t get enough of IDEAS.
And I’m grateful for that. I’d rather have too many ideas than not enough.
But I struggle with managing this flow. How many books have I half-finished? How many ideas have remained stagnant? How much time have I lost weighing out all of my ideas? How paralyzed have I felt trying to discover the best idea?
As writers, we’re usually not light on ideas or words. But knowing what to do with them is a whole other issue.
Through much trial and error, I’ve discovered three (kind of) easy steps to find clarity and walk forward in confidence, despite the onslaught of ideas.
1. Choose the one idea that most serves your ideal reader.
Your ideal reader is the woman you have in mind when you write. You’re equipped with the most tools to help her or experience to guide her.
So, since writing is serving, choose what helps her the most. If you’re not sure, ask her! What is she most struggling with right now? What fears are keeping her awake at night? What experiences are bringing her the most grief? Which of your ideas can solve these big problems?
Remember, you should land on one idea. Writing more than one book at a time will make your brain go fuzzy. You’ll lose track of your message, mix up your word counts, limit your progress.
Choosing one idea doesn’t kill the others. They’ll still be there when you return. And you’ll be wiser and more skilled to nurture those ideas when you do.
(If you don’t know your ideal reader at all, wait until the end. I’ve got some help for you!)
2. Stick with that idea until you finish it.
I know. Committing to an idea can feel scary. What if you choose the wrong one? What if it doesn’t really serve your ideal reader?
Here’s the good news: You can’t choose a wrong idea. The only wrong idea is staying where you are.
If you choose an idea that doesn’t resonate with your reader, then you’ll learn a valuable lesson for your next book. Every book idea you nurture, the more skilled you’ll become in choosing ideas.
Beware the idea that comes in the middle of your current one, too. I often find that my “best” ideas come when I’m struggling the most with my current one. In reality, it’s not a “best” idea. It’s my brain’s way of diverting attention from hard work.
Sure, that new idea might catapult me to all my hopes and dreams. But it’s not the idea I’m working on now.
Resist the temptation to run to something new and shiny. Stay committed to your current work, no matter how ugly or messy.
You’ll find that a clear goal keeps you from bailing too. Once you commit to an idea, also write down what it means to finish. Do you want to finish a rough draft? A book proposal? Get it published? Send to beta readers? Once you’ve put that final goal in writing, you know where to go before you can jump to the next idea. (Accountability in the form of a writing partner or writing coach (link) goes a LONG way with this!)
3. Get feedback.
Now for the fun, easy part.
This might be my least favorite part of the writing process. Feedback exposes my insecurities and reveals the flaws in my once brilliant idea.
However, without feedback, plans fail. Good ideas stay only good ideas, never great ones.
I’ve found that separating myself from the work helps me not take the edits personally. This work is not a reflection of myself. Instead, my editor/writing coach/friend is a partner. Together, we’re working on this as a team.
Feedback can come from beta readers (who are hopefully your ideal reader), a professional editor, or a writing coach. Regardless, the feedback will sharpen your idea. All those concerns of choosing the right idea are addressed in this stage. You can correct its flaws, answer questions of its strength, and move forward with confidence.
You might need a night or two of eating chocolate cake and binging old episodes of The Office. But once the sting has subsided, take the feedback seriously. You will only get better for it.
Alright, your turn! All you have to do is start with your ideal reader. And if you don’t have crystal clear clarity on who she is, step right this way, my friend!
In my Confident Writer’s Guide course, I walk you through how to create an ideal reader profile you can carry throughout your entire writing journey. The self-paced course delivers the foundational essentials to go from “just dabbling” to “professional writer.”
Click here to see what I mean!