One of my favorite parts of writing is the process of brainstorming story ideas. My brain constantly has a tab open for new characters, plotlines, or concepts that I think would be fun to write about. If I’m ever in the car for more than an hour, I’ll have a story halfway planned by the end of the drive. I enjoy it so much that I use it to motivate myself to do things I don’t really want to do. Time to mop the kitchen floor? No problem! Now it’s story planning time.
The issue with this is that any time I come up with a new idea, I’m instantly tempted to set everything else aside and focus all my energy on the new thing. This has led to dozens of abandoned documents that probably still have potential, but I’ve just never stuck with long enough to see them through. Most recently, I ended up with three very different ideas for novels, and was so paralyzed by the decision of which one to focus on that I just didn’t work on any of them. It became clear then that I needed to try a different approach; focusing on just one idea at a time.
A few weeks ago I took to social media with this dilemma. I was equally passionate about all three stories (or so I thought), but I had to be ruthless. I had to commit to one idea, or risk falling into the same trap I’ve been in so many times before. So I thought: why not ask people who love reading and writing as much as I do? 99 percent of my social media followers are fellow writers. They, of all people, would know which idea was best.
I put out a Twitter poll, as well as posting on Instagram asking for feedback. A part of me was hoping for a landslide winner to make my decision easy, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. The votes were pretty evenly split. I obsessively refreshed Twitter for a few days, anticipating an answer, and I started to pay attention to my reactions when each new vote would come in. I noticed disappointment when certain stories would pull ahead in the ranks. More importantly, I found myself rooting for one story in particular that appeared to be lagging behind.
So. When all was said and done, there was a “winner” in the Twitter poll. And putting the question out there on social media did help me decide where to put my focus. But the story that won the poll is not the story I’m going to be working on for now. Seeing the votes made me realize which idea I was passionate about. It brought my attention to what my gut had been saying the whole time. What was my gut saying, you ask?
The story I want to tell is new-adult science fiction, and I’m looking forward to taking it on. I’m still in the planning stages, but I can certainly say it will involve intergalactic space travel, gardening, and an intense quarter-life crisis. (Aliens–they’re just like us!)
My other stories (including ones I’ve talked about on the blog before) will still be there when I’m ready for them. And I appreciated the feedback from the wonderful writing community online! Although I’m not sure I would take this exact approach again, I’m glad I reached out on social media for this particular issue. Seeing the opinions of others helped me clarify my own, which is what I needed all along.
How do you utilize social media during your writing process, or maybe in other situations where it has been helpful? As always, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!