As those of you who know me know well, I like to stay... busy, to put it mildly. Even now, as I am powering through revisions on my current project, I am already getting excited about my next idea in the queue. And I have good reason to be excited - usually the end of one project prompts a Battle Royale between fledgling ideas for premium space in my brain, so it's a lovely change of pace to have a fully-formed idea ready to go!
Sometimes, going into that new idea, I don't have a lot to work with until I get into the rhythm of it. Sometimes it takes a couple chapters to figure out what I'm doing. But even when I'm flying blind, I like to make a new project survival kit of sorts. Here's what I take with me when exploring the uncharted project wilderness:
A proper soundtrack. I work full time and have a long commute, so I have to use those long commutes to my advantage and get some serious brainstorming in. And when I need to drown out the loud-laughers and the cell phone-talkers and get lost in my thoughts, I need something to set the right mood. Sometimes that means a full-fledged, 50+ song playlist. Occasionally, that means two songs I will listen to on repeat for weeks upon weeks and will never want to hear again when the project is over. Either way, music, for me, is a serious plotting aid.
A protagonist character sheet. Other characters, I can figure out along the way, but if I can't get the voice right off the bat, it's hard to get going on the project. I shared my character sheet here - help yourself!
Basic plot touchstones. I have done my share of plotting AND pantsing, but I rarely know exactly where I'm going right from the start. Instead, I have key scenes in mind when I start, just to give me and idea and get me excited about the story. A full outline tends to emerge after the first quarter or so of the manuscript.
A pitch letter. Yes, I used to hate them, too. But much like those touchstones, it's great to start out knowing my hook. And it's also great to have something to share with my critique partners to get their early take on it. (And I kind of love getting a little early excitement going, too!)
Have fun, OA, and happy writing!