If you are a writer, chances are there are characters, stories, plots and subplots floating around in your head. I know that’s the case for me. There are multiple characters and story lines clamoring in my brain demanding attention.

“Pick me! Pick me!” they shout.

How can I pick from among them?

Right now I have two equally intriguing ideas for books in my Dancing Through Life Series. Both will high-light a minor character from earlier books. Both will address significant social and moral issues. Both will require significant research.

My plan is to do one this coming November as part of NaNoWriMo and the second the next November, but there is a part of me that wants to do both now! Why wait two years? Sure I have a plan, but I’m not a slave to that plan. And then I got another idea for a book that could fit in this series, one that would be lighter and more fun. Why not do that one?

And then there’s last year’s summer WIP (work in progress). It became evident to me last fall that this story wasn’t completely done. It required a trilogy to follow the character beyond high school memories, into college and beyond. So do I pick up where I left off last summer and work on this trilogy? Or drop everything for the lighter more fun idea?

In my counseling training, I learned some Gestalt therapy concepts. One such concept was figure and ground. In simplistic terms, the ground is the background which includes past experience, beliefs, culture, etc. It provides context. The figure emerges from the background, demanding attention. Once it is resolved it sinks back into the ground. As a counselor you would help draw whatever was most important out of the background into the foreground where it can be addressed.

This works for me on so many levels. In prayer, I wait to see what presents itself as needing my attention; what I need to bring before God in my prayer time. In writing, I see what pushes its way to the foreground, demanding my attention. When that happens, I push the rest back into the background in order to focus on the “figure.”

It requires time to allow the characters to fight it out until one comes to the surface. That’s where I am at right now as I explore ideas waiting for the right one to come forward.

How about you? What works for you? I would love to hear from you.

This post was first published on my website, www.patriciamrobertson.com. For other blog posts and information about my other writing, please visit!