All things take time, nothing more so than writing. And projects will pile up. However, like all beginning writers, those projects don’t immediately pay, if at all. This is especially true of silly writing rules. You need to balance what is important with what is more a casual hobby.
This is where time management comes into play.
The big word here is MANAGEMENT. You have to make the big decisions, and with the big decisions come the hard decisions. Time management is like editing; sometimes you have to kill your darlings.
But management goes beyond that.
Take a hard look at your goals and your abilities to accomplish those goals. Some people can pound out an amazing word count in a very short time, others not so much. Some people have set times to write, others have variable times making a set schedule difficult. Some people are focused go-getters. My picture is in the dictionary beside the word, PROCRASTINATE.
I’ve come to terms with my strengths and weaknesses. I knew that if I was to to finish my current writing project, followed by another writing project, atop the ‘adulting’ duties of work and family I would have to either delay or even drop other projects. That didn’t include the other projects that popped up like something I did for Bundoran Press and…my God, writing is like a real business.
Well, so it is, AND YOU’RE THE BOSS. Act like one. Do what needs to be done and in the end, when you look back , there won’t be any guilty “Woulda, coulda, shoulda’ves.” You wouldv’e done your best with what you had. You won’t have to fire yourself and if you haven’t died you’ll have time to finish all that other stuff.
There may come a time where I’m paid to write, where I’ll have a deadline that I’ll do my best to meet or even beat. It is definitely good practice to get into that frame of mind. That means deciding which project is important and which one is just a distraction. That means being your own boss.Besides no one reads this blog anyway.
For your consideration from Bundoran Press.
Found this sweat shirt in the back of my closet. I remember going with my friends Steve, Tracy, and John. We wanted to see the cast who were supposed to show up on stage around 4 pm. The MC came out around 3:30 said their plane was delayed and they wouldn’t be out until 6. We gave a collective ‘screw that’ and went home. When it’s Trek vs Traffic, traffic always wins.
You’ve just finished the first chapter of your latest Greatest Novel Ever Written. Let’s call it GNER, with a silent G. You’ve poured your heart and soul into Chapter 1 of GNER. Rightfully proud of your accomplishment, you settle back with a favorite beverage and reread the beginning of your magnum opus.
Hmm. Spelling mistake in the first sentence.
Easily corrected. There. Reading on.
Oh, oh. Another spelling mistake. And an incomplete sentence. Oh, this characterization is all wrong. Why do I need all these sentences? I must edit this chapter! Now!
A month later you finally finish GNER chapter 1 and, if you are not dejected, disillusioned or haven’t given up altogether, you move on to chapter 2.
And do it all over again.
When you write, don’t look back. If you’re returning to your WIP after a break in writing it’s fine to reread a couple sentences or a paragraph to get your mind focused on the direction you wanted the story to go, but that’s it. There is a reason why a first draft is called a FIRST DRAFT. It is meant to be the bare bones of your story. It is meant to get all those ideas floating around in your brain onto the page. It is meant to get the damn story written.
It is not meant to be the finished product. That’s what the 2nd and all subsequent drafts are for.
Naturally as you write you’re going to come up with little plot points or descriptions that need to be retroed into your story. Just make a note of it and move on. The only time I do go to the beginning of anything I write it’s to make a quick note that this or that needs to be added. Then I continue from where I left off.
If you bog yourself down with perfecting every chapter, every sentence, you may never finish. Worse, that first chapter you worked on so hard, spent over a month making just perfect…well, by chapter 20 you’ve realized all of it is superfluous and needs to be cut. That’s right. Gone. All that time wasted.
So, don’t look back until you’ve reached The End. (see what I did there?)
Rule 11. Not everything you write is gold. Sometimes it’s crap. Unless you’re Midas, then even your crap is gold, but only if you touch it. Stop touching your crap. That’s weird.
So, you’ve just finished a work in progress. You think it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. You send it out and it comes back rejected. Okay, fine. You send it out again. And again. And again.
What’s going on? Why isn’t the best thing you’ve ever written selling? Well, there could be a number of reasons like not following standard manuscript format, sending it to the wrong market or… it really isn’t the best thing you’ve ever written.
It happens. When we finish a story, it’s our baby. Everyone loves their children. Well, most everyone. My father… he never… he was… oh, never mind. The point is it’s hard to be objective about your own work.
Not everything you write is going to be golden.
There are ways to get around this. Join a critique group, or at the least have some first readers who don’t care about hurting your feelings. They’ll let you know if your gold is really pyrite.
Despite all this, your story still might not sell. It might be time to trunk your story and move on. This might be the hardest thing to accept. Your Precious is not the One Ring to rule them all. But take heart. Having written something that doesn’t sell isn’t a wasted effort. Every time you write you learn, you hone your skills, and improve your craft. Every time you write you grow as a writer.
And that is golden.