That’s the question writers always have rattling around in their heads, isn’t it? Sometimes you might have half a dozen new plot ideas floating around in your brain soup and sometimes the ol’ skull bowl will have been drained bone dry. It’ll fill up again eventually, though. The stream of ideas is never truly dammed up.
One thing is a constant in the life of the diligent writer (0r any creative pursuit, really) – regardless of where you are in your current project, there’s always going to be a Next Thing. There will always be the need to make the Next Thing.
I tend to be someone who has too many Plot Bunnies frolicking through my Mind Fields at any given moment. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know that I run quite a bit. In the Not Winter months, I’ll log about 10-20 miles over the course of the week. The portion of that running time not spent on keeping myself from collapsing into a wheezing heap is devoted to plotting stuff. Plotting whatever my current WIP is, but also thinking ahead to what the Next Thing is going to be. A lot of time out on the open road has turned into wild Plot Bunnies.
But now it’s decision time. My YA Superhero manuscript, THE MANY FOES OF AURORA OVERDARK is done and it’s being queried right now (and eternal thanks to a number of my fellow Scribes for their invaluable input into the final product). It’s time to start the Next Thing. I had three ideas I was kicking around for the OVERDARK’s successor:
Weird Western with demons and this kinda Hellfire-punk technology and stuff. The Dark Tower is one of my favorite book series, so I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing a western-themed story (really hope they don’t butcher the movie, btw).
Lady Heroes of the Multiverse – basically female trope heroes joined up to save the Universe. Multiverse hopping is a thing that’s done a lot in comics, and by golly do I love my comics. Also, I recently read Michael Underwood’s first GENRENAUTS book and that kinda got me excited to do a multiverse team thing.
Those two came up from the usual On-The-Run-Brain-Bubbling.
The third one has a bit of a story. If you’ve listened to fellow Scribe Kristin McFarland and I’s podcast The Young Podawans, you’ll know that we discuss What We’re Drinking at the beginning of each episode. One week I had a beer called the Ginga Ninja and on the side of the can was a mini story about The Brewmaster and his Ninja Wife. I said to Kristin on that episode “I want to write this book.”
And I think I’m going to next. I’ve got a little Brexit inspired plot starting to brew (lol) around the Brewmaster and his probably not Ninja, but some kind of soldier wife and also his husband who’s also integral to their beer making / soldiery business.
So what’s the point of this post besides “look at these ideas I have and and have to pick one waaaaaah”? It’s interesting where we get our ideas from. The impetus for some of my previous books were a D&D campaign from high school, a ghost girl from a comic book, and now a story on the side of a beer can.
And not just that inspiration can come from anywhere, but that it can come at any time. Some people do their greatest thinking in the shower. Like I said before, I do a lot for my plot brainstorming during my runs, but I also have a 30 minute or so commute to and from work everyday and I find that to be a good time to mull over new ideas as well.
I think it’s vitally important for writers to carve out not only writing time, but thinking / plotting time. The ideas for the Next Thing need a place to be cultivated, whether they’ve come from the random mundanities of everyday life, plumbed from a lifetime of stories we’ve consume, or a little bit of both.
So, I guess I’ll leave this post with a question:
When and where does everyone else do their plotting and idea brewing? We all have so many different commitments and needs pulling us away from our stories, and I’d really love to know how people find the time in their lives and keep the stream of ideas still flowing.