Flip a coin?

I used to always advocate going with your gut when it comes to starting a new story.

“I can’t decide what project to start next. I don’t know which story I should focus on completing. . . .” someone would say.

“Oh, that’s easy,” I’d reply. “Just go with whatever story’s louder in your head.”

Easy.

Just.

The problem is that sometimes your head is really darn loud—and there’s more than one thing yelling. Especially, maybe, in the spring when the sap is running and new growth is exploding brilliant and green in every crook and cranny of the natural world.

I feel like one of my newly acquired chicks. Frantic with delight and distraction—everything is new. Everything is exciting. I can’t decide where to peck next, so I flap back and forth, take running leaps, then stutter to a stop—flutter up to practice perching, then flop back to the ground (sometimes face plant) to snack some more. . . .

The problem is that sometimes you can become so accustomed to working on a deadline that you know you can sit down to work, completely uninspired, and within minutes the muse will honour your commitment to your work and suddenly the story that seemed non-existent will roar to life. “Whatever’s loudest in your head” only half applies, because you’re a pro now (or some reasonable facsimile thereof, heh heh) and you can make your head turn up the volume on whatever story you want or need it to.

The problem is that sometimes two stories are completely different from each other in every way, yet are both engaging, tempting . . .

And before you suggest working on the stories in tandem . . . I can edit any number of works at the same time, it seems. And I can work on the odd short story while I’m in the midst of a novel. I can’t (yet!) seem to get into the worlds of two of my own novels simultaneously.

The problem is—I’m indecisive in the extreme the past few months, and now I’m being a big whiner and just making excuses.

Today (my last project, a.k.a. excuse, e-mailed away) was decision day. I came up with a solution. I’d flip a coin. Seriously. I even considered tweeting “Heads or Tails?” on Twitter and going with the choice that came back first.

And then, just short of hitting “enter,” a better idea finally it came to me. One of the stories, already started, is significantly shorter than the other will be and it has a brief chapter-by-chapter outline (something I never do) that will help me refresh myself with the plot almost at a glance. It will write itself quickly and be the perfect “break” piece once I’ve finished the rough draft of the longer novel and am giving it a 4-6 week rest before putting it through edits.

Tomorrow when I perch to write I’ll silence the loudest voice in my head—the stalling, but-what-should-I-focus-on one—and say, “Relax. You’ve decided, remember?” I guess in the end, I still believe in going with my gut. It’s just my guts are messy sometimes. ;)

How about you all? Is it always simple for you to figure out your next project, or do you spend a bit of time lollygagging over the decision?

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About Ev Bishop

Ev Bishop is a writer, editor and workshop facilitator, living in beautiful Terrace, British Columbia. Her works appear in a variety of publications and she writes in many formats and genres. She loves Barbara Kingsolver's belief that "There is no perfect time to write.... There is only now," and has modified it to be her own motto: Write here. Write now. View all posts by Ev Bishop

3 responses to “Flip a coin?

  • Jen Brubacher

    This is a very interesting peek into your mind, Ev. And I understand your dilemma. It sounds like maybe the answer “Write whatever’s loudest” doesn’t work so well when habit and professionalism also come into play. I’ll be very interested to hear how the two projects evolve.

  • Ev Bishop

    Yes, my mind = interesting, all right. If you like that kind of thing. :) Thanks for commiserating. I’ll keep you updated on my progress!

  • jenniferneri

    To date, Ev, I haven’t picked my next projects. Theyve picked me.
    However, at times (like at the moment) they come when I am in the midst of a WIP. Then I have to exert extreme will to not ditch current wip and run off with new one.
    Good luck!

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