Author Jennifer Hallmark’s debut novel releases in June, but don’t let the word “debut” fool you. She has plenty of writing credits and knows how to “Finish Strong.” Welcome, Jennifer!
What Should I Write About Next? When You’re Out of Ideas by Jennifer Hallmark
I sit at my desk and ask myself, “What’s next?”
You might imagine writers making a beautifully written
list of projects they’d like to complete. Whether articles for blogs, interview
questions to answer, a short story, or a novel, we should have our priorities
figured out. Calendars and notecards are filled and a writer sits at his or her
desk with fingers flowing over the keyboard. The writer only pauses to check
off the next thing on their list.
You would imagine wrong.
I’m sure there are creative minds out there who do all the above and
still have a life. I haven’t met any and honestly wouldn’t want to for it would
be intimidating. I mean, look at my desk as I type this article.
I do make lists. What you see at said desk are scattered
notes of things to do, projects to tackle, and novel and short story thoughts.
I have so many novel ideas that I made a file on the computer to hold them.
Each time one comes to mind, I jot down notes, type them into the computer, and
file it. If I didn’t, I’d have twenty ideas started and my desk would break
under the weight of the paper.
I used to sit for
days and wonder which project to tackle. I felt overwhelmed and discouraged (I
mean, shouldn’t I have my act together as a writer by now?) At least I did
become an expert at solitaire.
So, what did I do?
Divide and conquer.
I use different sides of my brain to write articles and fiction so why was I trying to mesh them together? For articles and such, I found a solution: Bullet journaling. Edie Melson has a wonderful step-by-step video on her site, The Write Conversation. In my bullet journal, I take a month at a time and make my schedule. I have a calendar to track my exercise and fiction writing but the rest is made up of month at a glance and week at a glance. I have sections in the month at a glance for my blogs, Inspired Prompt and Alabama Inspired Fiction. Another section is what I write for other blogs, magazines, or newsletters. My most marked up page is the one for my personal life with doctor appointments, picking up the grandchildren from school, and coffee breaks away from home. 😊
I make a note of all the articles and interviews and due
dates. If I don’t finish the project that day, I insert > by the bullet and
reschedule it, usually for the next day. I used far too many greater than signs when I started but
I’m slowly adjusting to the system.
Writing fiction is a little harder. I can schedule days
to write but when it came to selecting projects, especially in my early days of
writing, I vacillated back and forth. First, I’d work on my fantasy novel, then
on the southern fiction one. I loved them both but lost many days of writing because
I prayed and fretted and prayed some more. Which one, God? He didn’t seem to provide
any direction, no stone tablet dropped in my yard with an answer. So, I kept
blogging and working back and forth on my projects.
Maybe you have this problem also. If so, here are four
questions to ask yourself:
What genre do I want to write in most?
When I look at my list of novel ideas, which genre stands out?
Do one of my novel ideas have a theme that I’m ready to tackle?
For the traditionally published, is there a publisher I’d like to work with?
I asked myself these questions. The majority of my ideas
fit into southern fiction and I enjoy writing about my part of the world. I’d
met Eva Marie Everson, managing editor for Firefly Southern Fiction at a
writer’s conference, studied the imprint, and thought I’d like to work with
So, I set my fantasy book aside and concentrated on Jessie’s Hope, my debut novel which will release on June 17th.
Once completed, I asked myself again, “What’s next?” I’ve written the second book in the series and am daydreaming the third. I joined a fantasy critique group with Word Weavers, and once a month, allow myself to work on that project. I’ve also started a stand-alone Southern fiction set in 1978.
I guess my desk and files will always be a little messy
and a tad unorganized. But this works for me. Ask yourself the above questions
and see if this method works for you.
And as always, just write. It’s a decision you won’t regret …
ago, an accident robbed Jessie Smith’s mobility. It also stole her mom and
alienated her from her father. When Jessie’s high school sweetheart Matt Jansen
proposes, her parents’ absence intensifies her worry that she cannot hold on to
those she loves.
With a wedding fast approaching, Jessie’s grandfather Homer Smith, has a goal to find the perfect dress for “his Jessie,” one that would allow her to forget, even if for a moment, the boundaries of her wheelchair. But financial setbacks and unexpected sabotage hinder his plans. Determined to heal from her past, Jessie initiates a search for her father. Can a sliver of hope lead to everlasting love when additional obstacles–including a spurned woman and unpredictable weather–highjack Jessie’s dream wedding?
Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and fantasy, an interesting combination that keep the creative juices flowing. She’s published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations. She’s just published her debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, with Firefly Southern Fiction. When she isn’t babysitting grandkids or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on one of her two blogs. Or even watching American Ninja Warrior.
Sandra Ardoin engages readers with stories of love and faith. She’s the author of heartwarming and award-winning historical romance. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com. Subscribe to receive her updates and specials: http://eepurl.com/Xjqwr. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and BookBub.