IWSG Post 18: How to Decide Which Story to Write First


[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are, Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson

Thank you so much!



Define sto·ry (according to Google)



  • 1. an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment: “an adventure story” synonyms: tale, narrative, account, anecdote, yarn,
  • 2. an account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something: “the story of modern farming”

Stories come from everywhere.

Scenario A: Driving in your car in the middle of rush hour traffic, some careless driver is hot on your tail. Obviously, you’re moving too cautiously with a car length of space between you and the driver ahead. In the mirror, you see the impatient driver behind you. They try to pass you on the shoulder. What do you do? You might do what I did and you block him. Then you realize his impatience has turned to rage and the next action could have been the last.

Scenario B: Maybe at work, a big management person who gets stuff done, does so by yelling and barking out orders. Maybe she is happy when tasks work out, but never hands the credit to the person who deserves it. Her teeth are razor sharp and you swear every word is laced with venom. You keep your eyes glued to your computer, praying, Not me, not today.

Outcome: Suddenly the man in the car becomes a fire-breathing demon … or an alien beamed through light, through another human body just to irritate you. The woman in the office turns Python, coiling up in the shadows in wait for you to position yourself just right. If you do, she’ll strike and you’ll bleed, then she’ll track you. Mercilessly. She plans to tear you limb by limb as you scream.

belief-and-orderSo to answer this month’s IWSG question,Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?”

I have not. However, I have kept them all and plan to revisit at least one of them once I’ve completed the stories I can’t stop thinking about. My mind tends to fill up with all sorts of ideas when I sit down and ponder.

What are the reasons stories shift?

  1. We age. We experience new things.
  2. Passion drives story. With new experience comes new passion in different topics. My characters have changed because I have changed.
  3. Stories transcend out of other stories. I tend to write the plot that has become the thorn in my side I can’t seem to heal until it’s done. As stated by Robert Jordan, “Belief and order give strength. Have to clear the rubble before you can build.” My rubble is a current story or two. They beg me to put them first.

How to Prioritize?

Largely, two things come to mind: passion and need. If you face a writing deadline or theme, certainly that story plot and character will trump any of the others you may want to write. Next, passion tends to push the creative mind to wander.  I do believe we write from our hearts and our joys, not necessarily what we consider ourselves to be experts at. I love research just as much as I love to write. Back in high school, my interests were different. I researched and wrote historical fiction topics.  Today, I explore the magical possibility in everyday life. I choose the story based on the character in my mind who speaks stronger. If worse comes to worse, I can always play a quick game of rock paper scissors with my kids over the topic, or, there’s always the option of a coin toss.

Question: How do you decide which story to write first? How do you prioritize your projects? Do you find yourself dreaming stories up through everyday occurrences and writing them out?

Blog Tour Hosts

The authors in the Hero Lost Anthology are looking for some blog tour hosts. If you’re interested and you think you have time during the month of May, please click the google docs form lovely author Sarah Foster created and sign up.9781939844361-hero-lost

Thank you and have a lovely rest of your day. 🙂

About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on March 1, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. I love the scenarios you shared to illustrate how stories are inspired. Great points about what causes stories to shift. I can really relate to point #1, especially as I’m getting older and have started to accumulate a lot of experiences 🙂

    • I would love to interview you some day Ellen. I bet life on your boat is a freeing and beautiful experience even with all the work. Thank you for stopping in today. 🙂

  2. Chuckled at your scenarios 🙂 I tend to write the story that wants to be written. Though when deadlines loom for others, I have to put those characters in a time-out until the work is done and we can play again.

  3. I always worry that the jerk drivers will turn into demons. And in the past, I would’ve poked that badger!

  4. I rotate through my work depending on deadlines and motivation. My muse is not the boss of me and I’m sticking to that story no matter what. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  5. Indeed. You know, the most interesting thing to me is how the themes of these old stories change over time. It’s not so much the story elements, but the motivations behind them. I look back at things written in different periods and go, “Aha!” Because that theme totally resonates with where I was at then.

  6. Loni Townsend

    I am a slave to passion when it comes to writing. 🙂

  7. I’m an old broad who hopes to live long enough to become an even older one, so no way would I mess with an impatient driver who wants to get past me. I figure some rights are worth dying for, but the right of way ain’t one of them. If he wants to go past, he can have at it. Heck, I might even smile at him as he roars past, but just between you and me, I might possibly give him a one-finger salute, too… below his line of vision, of course.

    The icon from your comment on my blog now takes me to your google+ page, which has restricted access. Might work for others who are on google+, I suppose, but I don’t chose to go that route. However, the link on the IWSG still works just fine and dandy.

    How do I prioritize? I try to concentrate on completing one project at a time, and right now, that’s the trilogy. (Not even finished with the first book yet!) When something else comes along that I can complete relatively quickly, like a requested article, story, or essay, I’ll do that, but the other long-term projects are gonna have to wait their turn in line.

  8. Hi Erika! I think I’m like you in that whichever story is the biggest thorn in my side, that’s the one that I need to write. I considered for a short while last year trying to write two novels simultaneously, but then I found that it wasn’t really simultaneous. If I started working on one, I would put the other aside for a while, then come back to it. http://www.raimeygallant.com

  9. I’m always amazed at how writers can keep multiple projects going. I’m a one-at-a-time girl, I guess. I don’t even muse about the next until the one I’m working on is done. Is that weird? Ha ha. I enjoy your musing, Erika. Happy Writing.

    • Hi Diana. I don’t blame you. Especially when you focus on a certain feel and tone in a manuscript and another project might be completely different in tone. I am happy to know you enjoy my cloud Nine thoughts 🙂

  10. tyreanmartinson

    Thanks for this post, Erika! It’s perfect timing for me. I was working on one WIP before I got sick and then … my gaze has shifted to a different one. I told myself I was just doing research for “another” day, but I think I’ve shifted projects without meaning to … sigh. For now, I will work the newer idea because it’s just there, all the time, in my head.

  11. Yeah, our stories morph in different ways depending on so many factors. The basic thing to remember is: we should trust ourselves and our inspiration today.

  12. What you’ve said here is like a gospel of creative writing. You’ve described my own tenets of a writing religion if there were such a thing. There are stories not only everywhere, but often more than one is at play at any one given time. The writer who takes in everything that is within their aura of influence can mine a wealth of stories, characters, and details.
    Nice observations and advice in what you’ve written in this post.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • I am happy Our thoughts are in sync Arlee. It’s true. Themes are constants, but there is always a way to write a new scene and find a fun story out of life. Thank you for stopping in today.

  13. Some stories just speak louder and need attention. I keep all of mine too, but have not yet returned to any.

  14. spunkonastick

    I sometimes bounce back and forth between stories. I’m doing that now with two of the stories for my next book. Some days the alien wins, some days the shark. The most interesting was when I was writing a fiction and a non-fiction book at the same time.

  15. I agree, perspectives can change over time which brings a new energy to old stories. And hooray for rock, paper, scissors!

  16. It’s really interesting that #1 under reasons stories shift is because we age. That was precisely the reason why I rewrote my series that I started as a kid. 🙂

    A lot of great insight and advice in this post. There are two projects I want/need to work on. The first is the last in my Disaster Crimes Series and the other is one that I know will make a difference…to me and to others.

  17. I love Arlee’s thoughts on the topic. The fact that more than one story is at play at any one given time? Now that’s creativity at its highest.
    Having that little notebook tucked away in each bag is essential, so as to mine the wealth of stories, characters, and details that he mentioned.

    I signed up for the blog tour!
    Writer In Transit

  18. Thank you for sharing your strategies for prioritising writing projects. I still struggle with that and usually, the story that pulls hardest gets my attention (in the absence of a deadline for a commission).

  19. I never thought of the story as a thorn in my side and you have to write it down to get rid of it. Love that. I usually have the story swirling in my brain. It won’t let me go. In the shower, on a walk, washing dishes, and on and on, so I finally give up and start writing. it. Enjoyed your thoughtful post.
    JQ Rose

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