What to write first?

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So I've set aside the large novel I'd been working on for the best part of 2018 and the play I've been directing over the last couple of months is about to complete it's run this week, so I'm looking to get back into some serious writing again, but the problem is - I don't know what to start with?

I've got one planned novel in its early stages, but it's not quite clicking as I'd like. I've also jotted down the opening to another novel recently, but I haven't planned it so I'm a bit concerned about marching on with it at this stage. I've tried to plan it but all I seem to have is a promising initial concept, but no real understanding of where it's going; every attempt to think it through just gets me written into a corner. I've got a notebook filled with about 20 story ideas, some of which feel like they have some promise if I just spent some time on them, but I don't want to abandon the one I've already planned for one of these.

I've also got a script for a one act play bouncing around in my head and rather annoyingly I have an idea that's clamouring to be written as a film script; even though I know nothing about film scriptwriting it's demanding to be written.

Oh, and I've got a few poem ideas that are knocking on my mental writerly door asking 'when are you going to get around to writing me?'.

What do you do when you feel like you have too many ideas, but no time to write them all and no understanding as to which one (if any) is actually any good?

Help!
 
Ah, choices. When that happens, I usually go with the one idea that I feel offers the biggest conflict, that one story where you can put your protagonist through the mill.

I've also jotted down the opening to another novel recently, but I haven't planned it so I'm a bit concerned about marching on with it at this stage.
If it grips you, maybe just get on with the planning?

I've got one planned novel in its early stages, but it's not quite clicking as I'd like ... every attempt to think it through just gets me written into a corner
Is that because the initial concept has a flaw somewhere? I've had that situation in the past. I tried too hard to make something work and as soon as I let it go and accepted it doesn't work, the real story came forward.

Or do you feel like a challenge and something new: Script idea?

I'd say go with the one that excites you the most.
 
So I've set aside the large novel I'd been working on for the best part of 2018 and the play I've been directing over the last couple of months is about to complete it's run this week, so I'm looking to get back into some serious writing again, but the problem is - I don't know what to start with?

I've got one planned novel in its early stages, but it's not quite clicking as I'd like. I've also jotted down the opening to another novel recently, but I haven't planned it so I'm a bit concerned about marching on with it at this stage. I've tried to plan it but all I seem to have is a promising initial concept, but no real understanding of where it's going; every attempt to think it through just gets me written into a corner. I've got a notebook filled with about 20 story ideas, some of which feel like they have some promise if I just spent some time on them, but I don't want to abandon the one I've already planned for one of these.

I've also got a script for a one act play bouncing around in my head and rather annoyingly I have an idea that's clamouring to be written as a film script; even though I know nothing about film scriptwriting it's demanding to be written.

Oh, and I've got a few poem ideas that are knocking on my mental writerly door asking 'when are you going to get around to writing me?'.

What do you do when you feel like you have too many ideas, but no time to write them all and no understanding as to which one (if any) is actually any good?

Help!
I know how you feel. I have lots of bits and pieces -- and notes -- at different stages, too, including a WIP that is about ¾ written but has got a bit bogged down.

My opinion is not worth any more than anyone else's and probably less than most, but what I do is progress with whichever bit/piece seems to call out for it at the time (a fresh idea now, etc), plus the odd big chunk of paid work... That seems to give me some necessary distance from the WIP, and even the odd lightbulb moment -- usually in the middle of the most turgid bit of paid-for.

I find if I make myself move on with the WIP when it's a real slog, it shows in the writing. I'd love to have it done and dusted, because writing anything else till I have seems illogical and time-wasting, but I guess I'm going to have to carry on this way till this one's finished. However next time...
 
I always have more ideas clamouring for my time than I have time to give them! I actually try to have several on the go at any one time--when one is stalled, I can set it down and work on another until inspiration strikes on the stalled one. I also give projects deadlines. That lets me prioritise one over another if I don't know what to work on. I suspect that doesn't help you decide right now ...
 
Some years ago I went to the USA as an interpreter and one of the sentences I had to translate for an American entrepreneur was something which I will never forget and may be useful to anyone who feels bogged down- I apologise in anticipation for the indelicacy:

"Ideas are like an arse hole; everybody has got one." :oops:
 
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Go with what fires you up, even if you don't quite know "how" to do it (like the script). If nothing else, you will learn something and it will probably give other ideas or leads to something else. Follow the joy :)

If you slog through something it will be hard and miserable and that will be most apparent in the work. If something isn't working, let it sit until the insistent nudges become shoves to get back to it and you are dreaming about what you can do with it and you are breathing and living it. Then it is time to rework it and you will see it in a new and exhilarating light. But for now, don't worry about where it will lead or whether it will work out, go with what makes you tingle with anticipation.
 
Seems like you've got quite a list! Sometimes I used the quick win approach when I'm feeling overwhelmed and not sure which project to focus on. That is, do the shortest less time-consuming projects first to clear some of the clutter/head space, then tackle the bigger/more challenging projects. Added bonus: you get the buzz from finishing a project sooner, which I always find a good motivator to launch onto the next thing.

That said, this is just what works for me, you mileage may vary.
 
I've been in the same dilemma. I took each new project and worked on it, just one idea a day, to see what moved along, what felt right. I selected one and I'm going with that exclusively for now.

I've got one planned novel in its early stages, but it's not quite clicking as I'd like.
Can you work out why it's not clicking? When I originally started writing The Kaleidoscope Man, it was set in Cuba. I thought it was a good idea but I was completely blocked with it, couldn't make any headway at all. Then I realised that the location, while (at that time) cool n' trendy and great for that plot, wasn't working for me. I'd been writing about the place for a decade, and I was bored with it. I tried again, setting the story in the town where I grew up, and it took off immediately.
 
I usually find that boring bits in my writing are also boring bits to read. Other times I get stuck with plot problems, where I haven't quite worked out how to get from A to B. In the former case, I find, just writing through it results in finished prose which is ready for the next draft. Sometimes the boring stuff in the middle is what will become excellent character development even if the plot seems to have slowed or I'm slowly pulling threads together towards the climax, but it's gotta get written first. You can't edit something into shape if it's not on the page.

If it's a plot problem, on the other hand, it needs solving before I can continue, which might require a step back to look at the outline, or the story theme. For me, the important thing is to get the thing finished. Otherwise I end up with a dozen works half-to-three-quarters done and no incentive to go back to any of them because as soon as I do I'll still be stuck.

I've tried to plan it but all I seem to have is a promising initial concept, but no real understanding of where it's going; every attempt to think it through just gets me written into a corner.

Dan Brown advises to look at the story promises - the questions you set up at the start and to which the reader will expect an answer - and use them to work out the ending. When you have the ending in sight it makes the intervening steps a lot easier.
 
I second Dan's advice to just get it finished, initially. The first draft is almost always rubbish anyway, but when you have it finished and done, it's usually easier to see where the problems are, and fix them in the re-write.
 
I have an idea that's clamouring to be written as a film script
My two cents, for what they're worth. Brace yourself for the voice of doom ;) ...

Don't write a film script!

Unless...

a) the pleasure of writing it will be an end in itself or b) you know a producer who's mad for it before you write a word. The chances of getting a spec script off the page are vanishingly small. And (I'm taking a leap now, so forgive me if I'm telling grandma how to suck eggs), scripts are technical documents, they're blueprints for a director. What's important – from the point of view of the writer – is the story. Write a good story and then get a producer interested. For the most part, writing a script is simply about translating a story from one format (fictional narrative – not necessarily a fully written piece, perhaps only ideas and Post-it notes) into another (technical recipe); it isn't where the magic happens.

Of course, there are always exceptions...
 
I have to concur with @Rich. in regards to scripts... but I'd still say, do it for the craic if you have a real compunction to have a go (over here, we'd say if you had a grá to do it, like a desire in your heart).

My son is close to finishing his degree in film and media; if you wrote one, just for the fun of it, to do it, you could always contact colleges in this area because they make several films a year, and you would have the pick of enthusiastic film makers in college or straight out of college hoping to strike lucky. They are always looking for good scripts.
 
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If it were me with all these ideas, I would go with the one I can't get out of my brain. Personally I find it almost impossible to try to "force through" a project. Once I've lost impetus, that's it. I have to put it aside and get on with something else.
As for odd ideas for stories that haven't had time to expand, I write them into a big book labelled Ideas, and when I'm bored or lost for something to get on with I get out the Ideas book and read through it. Something usually jolts and I go off on another project.
Now I'm not necessarily recommending this method at all, you end up with lots of started projects and very few "finished" ones.
But for me, I can't force the work. If I try the results are terrible; my plots tie me in knots, my characters are flat and the writing has no zest. When the ideas are flowing well the writing is so much better. When they are not, then I might as well go and do something else.
As for the script writing, give it a go, it's quite fun. Although I have only ever done a script from a story I've already written. I've not started with an idea and said to myself "I'll write this as a script from the get-go." It's a good learning exercise But as @Rich. has said, getting a script accepted and made into a film or TV series, is probably harder than getting a book published.
 
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I always find that taking a brand new approach to the process always gets the wheels unstuck. I scrapped something I ran through the writing groups a little while ago and started from scratch. In fact, I scrapped the first few chapters of the novel TWICE. The concept was great, but what I had put to paper just didn't work. Now, I'm 12,000 words deep into something that's very different from anything I've written before, but I think it's going VERY WELL.

Maybe stick with the one you want to keep writing on, but approaching the story from a different angle?
 
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