Have you ever been in a situation where you had too many ideas and couldn’t decide which one to work on? I’m going to help you choose the best idea to write right now, with the help of a simple framework.
Maybe procrastination has held you back; it’s easier to keep coming up with new ideas than it is to do the hard work of developing a single one.
Or perhaps you have been paralysed by the fear that you must choose the one very best idea, if only you knew which one it was.
The bottom line is we can only move forward with our writing careers when we commit to an idea and start working on it. Ideas on their own don’t have much value.
Let’s get going with the task at hand: choosing your best idea; this simple framework should help!
To start, take out your list of ideas. If they’re scattered all over the place, summarise them in a line or two and collate them in one document.
Scoring your ideas
Next you’re going to rate your ideas out of 10 on the basis of these 3 questions:
- Going on your gut reaction, how passionate are you about this idea? 1 = I hate this idea, 10 = I absolutely love this idea. (NB: all the ideas will need a lot of work. They’re not fully formed yet, so don’t look for perfection!)
- How easily could you write this? Would you need to do a lot of research? Is it within your level of writing experience? (For example, if you’ve never written a screenplay before, you probably shouldn’t start with a feature film.) Again, score each idea out of 10.
- How marketable is this idea? Is it a popular type of story, e.g. thriller or comedy? Or is it so weird and wacky that few people will relate to it? Again score each idea out of 10.
Next, add up all the scores out of a possible total of 30, and put aside the 3 ideas with the highest scores. Does the one with the top score jump out at you?
If you’re not 100% sure yet which idea to work on, spend about 30 minutes honing and brainstorming these 3 ideas. Going through them one by one, I want you to keep in mind these 3 points:
- Is it credible?
- Is it original?
- How can I make it stronger?
After completing this little exercise, if you still don’t know which to go for, get feedback. Discuss the ideas with a writers group, friends and/or family, or a writing coach, and take on board other people’s responses.
If you still don’t know which idea to go for, it’s time to think about your career goals. Spend about an hour writing and exploring where you would like to go with your writing career in an ideal world. Imagine yourself 2, 5 and 10 years down the line.
Once you have a better sense of the direction you want to go in, go back to your top 3 ideas, and pick the one that is best aligned with your future career goals. Start working on it right away!
I hope this simple framework helps you to choose your best idea. Let me know if it works for you. And by the way, if you need help pinning down your writing goal, get in touch, as I’d love to help you out with one of my coaching programmes.
PS – Thanks to Chris Guillebeau for his Side Hustle Selector tool, which inspired me to write this article.