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Can't decide which project to focus on

Aiwendil

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Not sure if this really counts as writer's block, but the excitement of finishing and revising the novel I've recently completed has died down, and I just can't seem to get into any of the ideas I've got for the next one. They're all very different - one's kind of a straightforward sci-fi, but with a setting partly inspired by my own experience in physics, another is a weird pseudo-sci-fi that weirdly takes inspiration from both Vonnegut and Voltaire, and the third is sort of a philosophical contemporary mystery about musicology. I think there's potential in all of them, but it's just so hard to jump into something new after working on my previous project for years.

Anyway, I'm not necessarily looking for advice so much as kvetching. But that's where I've been lately in terms of being blocked.
 

ChaseJxyz

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Those are all really cool ideas!

What is the thing that fuels the most in writing? Is it discovering a new story or world? Is it making content that you'd want to read? Is it experimenting in various ways?

Also, what about the new ideas that makes them daunting? I also have my Very Big Project that it'll be the second year of working on now, and there's definitely a comfort in knowing that most of the words are already there, the plot and characters and setting have all been made, it's just using my tweezers to arrange the microgreens on the plate into a form that I feel accomplishes my goals the most (to use a hyper-specific metaphor lol).

But for me, I do find a lot of fun in discovering these new things, doing world-building, research, writing a bunch of scenes that'll end up in the trash just so I can get a better handle on who these characters are and what they want. But also I have A Lot Of Ideas, and I have no problems starting up a new thing. It's getting it past the first few thousand words that is the hard part lol
 

AnnieColleen

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Not sure if this really counts as writer's block, but the excitement of finishing and revising the novel I've recently completed has died down, and I just can't seem to get into any of the ideas I've got for the next one. They're all very different - one's kind of a straightforward sci-fi, but with a setting partly inspired by my own experience in physics, another is a weird pseudo-sci-fi that weirdly takes inspiration from both Vonnegut and Voltaire, and the third is sort of a philosophical contemporary mystery about musicology. I think there's potential in all of them, but it's just so hard to jump into something new after working on my previous project for years.

Anyway, I'm not necessarily looking for advice so much as kvetching. But that's where I've been lately in terms of being blocked.
I don’t know if it counts as block or not, but it sounds like maybe a natural transition point from one intense, focused stage of work into something else that’s still nebulous and hard to pin down. Definitely annoying in any case.

I like what Chase said about exploratory* writing — not necessarily deciding what the Next Thing is, but just poking at the worldbuilding and characters and such to see what develops. It seems like this kind of approach lowers the stakes of deciding what the next thing is, because it doesn’t have to be a decision yet; it’s just trying things. I literally keep a six-sided die on my desk for those times when the task of deciding what to work on seems like too much. Sometimes that brings good results; sometimes it means I realize what I actually want to work on; sometimes the problem is still there and I just have to give it more time.

All of those sound like neat possibilities, though!

(*My paraphrase; sorry if this off the mark from what you meant. :) )
 

Nether

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I just pick something and start it myself, usually finalizing my selection before finishing the current (or I guess previous) project.

But my process is also different, since I draft quickly and then work on revising/editing older projects while drafting new ones (which always leads to a bottleneck because I prefer drafting to editing; and some manuscripts stay lower on the editing-queue because they either require more work or I haven't identified what might be lacking).

I hate to have downtime between projects. Ideally I'll start drafting the next one the day after finishing the last one (deliberately giving myself the rest of that day "off", although it might be spent on planning).

Not that I don't necessarily relate to the issue. When I was looking at projects as having much longer time-frames, the steeper opportunity-cost felt daunting. That can definitely be tough.
 

neandermagnon

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Excessive procrastination can be a form of writer's block, or an avoidance strategy because there's something else blocking you from writing. Indecisiveness that stops you from doing anything is a form of procrastination. So I think it probably does "count". Writer's block is not a scientific term so I don't like to use words like "doesn't count" in this context - if there's something psychological blocking you from writing then I would say that's writer's block. Even if some types are not as difficult to overcome as others.

What I would suggest is to start writing each of your ideas, just for fun. Not with the intention of completing all of them, or even most of them (or even any of them, if you end up pursuing a different idea long term). The intention is that by starting each one, you'll probably find that your interest and passion starts to come back for one or two of them - those are the ones you continue with. Keep the others on a backburner. (Don't trash them in case you change your mind later, or want to go back to them after finishing the idea(s) you stick with.) Also, writers block can quite often be caused by putting yourself under pressure to produce something "worthwhile" or "publishable" rather than just writing what you want to write just for fun. So by just having fun with your new ideas and seeing where they lead you, it takes this pressure off you.
 
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Paul Lamb

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My suggestion (if you want it) aligns with neandermagnon more or less.

Maybe you could devote a different part of each day, or a different day each week, to each of the new projects you're flirting with. Try to be consistent and rigorous about doing the right work on the right times and see which one gets the most traction or that interests you most once you have achieved enuf mass behind it. This might steer you toward the one that you're best suited to pursue next. Or it might allow you to create a creative schedule in your days that will let you work on several things at once.

Good luck. I hope you'll post here how your effort works out.
 

Aiwendil

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Thanks for all of your thoughts and encouragement! I have started a little bit of outlining/brainstorming for each of the ideas. I guess I'm just missing the feeling of being deep into a story, with a lot of material to work on and tinker with. But maybe I'll just try writing a first chapter of one of them and see where that takes me.

I think I'm definitely also feeling some pressure from my previous novel. I ended up being very happy with how it turned out, and I guess I feel a need for whatever I do next to measure up to it, which none of these ideas are doing for me so far. But I should probably realize that this is just because I haven't gotten sufficiently into them yet.
 

Madzianta

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I also have a problem of trying to handle a few stories at once. I don't count "research" as work. It's pure procrastination to me.
I start another project when the previos one isn't finished - it's a fear of failure I think ;)
 

Chuckster

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The late Isaac Asimov had several typewriters in his office, each one dedicated to a different story. I kind of do the same, as I have several Word files open at the same time on my computer. Why don't you try working on several projects at once and see if one strikes your fancy and takes off.
 

LucindaLynx

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Sometimes one just must accept "words don't come today" or "words don't come this week". If I get a block, I may leave writing aside. Not permanently, but for some time, and do something totally unrelated to writing. I may focus on my needlework or something else. Once the time is right, the block will go away.
But then there are times like "I don't know what I'd write". That's when I start reading discussion forums and hope something in there will wake the spark of writing.
These are my ideas only. I hope they help, even if just a little.
 
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