5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a New Writing Project

Be honest: can you REALLY do this?

When new ideas hit, it’s tempting to jump in without considering whether or not that’s the best move to make. As a writer, you probably have a lot going on at once. Starting new projects is the easy part, compared to the follow-through.

How can you ensure you’re not going to bail on this three months from now? Start by asking yourself these questions to help you decide if you’re making the right choice for you right now.

1. Do you have time?

Time. You know, that thing we can never seem to have quite enough of. In all honesty, most of us are a lot worse at managing our time than we should be, and even though it’s not really shameful to admit it, what we really can’t afford to do is give ourselves more to do than we can handle, time-wise.

Be honest with yourself. Do you have the time required to put even a few extra hours into a new project every week — or a little bit every day? Can you set aside time blocked off specifically for writing this one thing? If you can’t, it’s OK to hit the pause button until you’re willing/able to make it happen.

2. Are you genuinely interested, or just bored?

You might not have thought of this, but some people’s brains have a tendency to bounce around from one thing to another a little too quickly. For me, boredom creeps in when I’m writing too much on the same topic, or in the same medium — and that’s when new ideas ever-so-conveniently start knocking.

The problem is, if you’re tempted out of boredom, and not legitimate interest, you won’t be able to stick with this new project very long before you get bored again and move on to something else. Maybe that’s your workflow “style,” but it might not be the most productive way to handle your work life all the time.

3. Do you have a long-term plan in place — or at least in the works?

Starting anything without an action plan is, usually, not a great idea. Yes, sometimes the best you can do is dive in and allow yourself to be a little bit spontaneous. But if it’s really a project you’re interested in pursuing in the long-term, your chances of sticking with it aren’t great if you don’t have a clear direction of where you want to take it.

At least do what you can to figure out when you’re going to sit down to work on it throughout the week, if it’s feasible. You don’t have to plan in too much detail — but you have to have something.

4. What are you REALLY hoping to accomplish?

Maybe you just have a fun idea and want to enjoy writing something random for a little while, no strings attached. Or maybe you have a much more tangible end goal in mind. Neither way is “right” or “wrong.” But it’s important to know what you’re really hoping to get out of this new thing before you commit to it.

Remember, goals — the only real way to make sure something gets done — help you establish not just where you’re going, but why. Your “why” is one of the most important drivers of theoretical success. When you’re struggling, it might be the only internal motivation you have.

5. Are you willing to give something up to make it happen?

When you make a commitment to work on something new, usually, something else has to take a trip down to the bottom of your priority list for awhile. Maybe it’s Netflix, maybe it’s reading, maybe it’s sleeping in on Saturday mornings.

You don’t have to make yourself miserable or stop doing the things that relax and recharge you. But some adjustments probably do need to be made to your schedule. Are you willing to make a few small changes so you have more time/energy for a little extra creative exercise?

If you want to dive right in, go ahead. As long as you’re confident you’re doing the best thing for you as a creator, chances are, you’re already on a good track.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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7 thoughts on “5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a New Writing Project

  1. It’s interesting that you reference no strings writing. I’ve never thought about the perceived burden to follow through, but it’s definitely there. And I do enjoy writing from prompts, little snippets that don’t have to be anything more than 10 minutes of free writing.

    1. I think, whatever gets you writing, counts as a good strategy. You just have to decide what’s the best use of your time in the moment and in the long-term and roll with it. Easier said than done, but still.

      1. Mmm. And sometimes I find what I really need is to write without purpose or pressure, and return to the simple pleasure of it.

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