What are you working on next?

This afternoon, I talked about my experiences as a professional writer with a few participants in a youth literacy project called “In Our Own Words”, held at Alexandra Neighbourhood House in White Rock, BC. At the end of my talk, which ran through my experiences with screenwriting and comic writing, host Lois Peterson asked me “So, what are you working on next?”

I didn’t have an answer.

It’s not like I’m doing nothing. There’s lots I’m working on… work work (aka the day job), stuff related to this site, reading a draft manuscript for a writer friend. But my own creative project?  Several strong possibilities; nothing I’ve settled on.

Which got me to wondering, where DO people get their ideas and how does one know whether the idea they have, is what they should focus on? What if a writer sat down and spent a few days brainstorming, visualizing, dreaming, showering (I get lots of ideas in the shower!) but still, nothing jumped out and grabbed them by the throat and demanded to be pursued? What then?

My suggestion to that writer — and to myself in this particular case — would be to start with a win. More specifically, a win that can be won within one month.

In other words, take one small step. Take one of the ‘possible new ideas’, then… doodle a short comic, record yourself talking through a scene and listen to it, write a flash fiction, create a visual collage, find five news articles that relate or put together a playlist that puts you in the headspace to write.

What if when that’s done, still no bolt of lightning? Try something slightly bigger. Take a slightly larger step in one particular direction. See how it feels.

True, you may not be moving fast. But at least you’re moving forward. If you’re on the right path, it’ll become easier to see where it is you need to go, where to step next. If you’re still in a clump of bushes, you now know what path you shouldn’t be on. Sometimes, that’s as valuable as anything else.

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