author embarks on a new project immediately after successful submission and acceptance of a book. With fiction especially, but even I suspect with factual material, the most recently finished book is still too fresh in one's mind.
When it is fiction, the characters and locations which were worked on so diligently keep coming back to mind. It is almost impossible to set them aside and start on new protagonists in a new place, with a brand new story and a feasible plot. How does one take up a whole new premise... just like that?
There's also the protagonist around whom the whole story is going to revolve. Male or female? Experienced or naïve? Good looking or homely? An author can spend literally hours dreaming up a character - and a novel needs several. True, they do not all need to be sketched finely, but they need some faceting.
What about a premise that can be put into one sentence? This is sometimes impossible early in drafting. A writer needs to chew at least four yellow pencils, eraser and all, before a strong premise unearths itself.
Then there's the story. Start at the beginning and work chronologically? Weave in a couple of flashbacks? How is the plot going to warp and weft through the narrative? The author must think up a number of devilish delays and devious devices. [I must stop that before I use all my Ds.] There must be intrigue, deception, heartbreak, confusion, and anticipation. And a few more sentiments thrown in for good measure.
A good way to start is to devise a plan - not necessarily an outline, but an author's plan. The first step in any plan is to make a decent list. List a plan of action. Make as few decisions as possible at this stage. Number one on the list could be: I must put myself in inspiring places and situations. Or, I must read inspiring material. Or, I must stay away from works in the projected genre (or the opposite).
The nice thing about sounds and pictures is that they punctuate streaming thought. They are like commas in the head. That is why I often put them into my narrative: they break up the monotony quite nicely. A bell rings, birds' wings flutter, or cutlery clatters against plates. Atmosphere is about one-fifth sounds.
Atmosphere! How does an author create that? With great difficulty and a lot of peace and quiet. Even to create a scene of chaotic confusion, such as a fist fight in a noisy warehouse full of buzzing forklifts, an author needs peace and quiet.
Concentrating about all these ingredients and strategies, devices and methods does have the ability to dim the long-lasting aftertaste (or afterglow if it was accepted) of the most recent book. A fresh place must be found from which to spring. It often takes organisation and stealth to find it.
I would love to hear how other authors manage to mentally leave their last book behind, and embark on a new one.