Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On Picking Projects

I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to things I could be doing with my writing time. I have multiple notebooks full of ideas- some of them even sketched out into acts and arcs. I have what's frankly become a shameful number of first drafts and stories I really meant to finish. I have some novels that are not ready to send out yet. And on top of that, I'll very often sit down and just bang out something new, either for a prompt or a specific anthology opening.

Picking what to do is something I really need to be better at.

Mur Lafferty once said she has a big jar with all her projects in it, and she will draw one at a time from the jar, work on it until it's done, and then draw another one. I'm not quite that disciplined- in fact I find when I'm stuck, going off and doing something small and different will often jostle me out of my funk. On the other hand, there have certainly been things I've walked away from and failed to come back to.

At present, the first for me is social- if I've promised a story to someone, if it's a group activity with friends, if it's something for a project someone I like is doing, that will usually take precedence.

Secondly it's impersonal deadlines- deadlines have just always been a big kick in the pants for me, and I'm trying to stay more aware of upcoming anthology and themed publication deadlines, and either write to them or find a story that fits well enough but needs a little polishing.

Then there's the question of moments of inspiration. Lately I've been of the opinion that when you've got the surging drive to work on something, you may as well work on it until it's done, so that's a spanner in the works. Fun is very often a main motivator for me, because I'm resigned to not turning a great deal of profit on this.

Then there's shame. There are things I've started and meant to finish, and knowing I haven't finished them fills me with that productive sort of self-loathing that means I have to correct the deficit I have allowed to happen.

Honestly, this is something I need to be much more disciplined about, and probably something for which I need to form some sort of plan, but on the other hand, I really do enjoy the strange spontaneous turns things take when I fall in love with an idea, or rediscover something fun.

I don't know, how do you fine folks out there in internet land handle this situation?

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