Back in Writing Journal 241, I talked about a lack of focus. Mari Adkins linked me to an article on How to Finish What You Start that got me thinking. So, this weekend I sat down and decided to get organized, figure out what projects I have started and which ones I should focus on.
What a depressing thing that turned out to be.
I list a bunch of projects in the sidebar of this site. Sometimes, I even keep the progress bars up to date. (Sidenote: I wish there was a WP Scrivener plugin that just automatically pulled that data right onto the blog. That would rock!) That list does not represent the bulk of what I have going, just the things I’m trying to concentrate on. (Which doesn’t always work)
Anyway, I have been writing for a very long time. I started in high school on a typewriter that we borrowed from my aunt and uncle. It wasn’t even electric. (Weighed about ten thousand pounds, too) Then I had an electric model, then a word processor and eventually, moved to Word, Mac TXT files and now to Scrivener. In short, I have used a lot of different platforms/formats.
The stuff I wrote on typewriters is still around, existing on paper in file folders. I try not to look at those much. The word processor stuff – if it didn’t get printed, is sitting on unreadable disks in a box. Everything else is still electronic, but I only keep so much on the laptop I use for writing. The idea with this laptop was to keep it lean and clean and only use it for writing. That plan has since fallen apart and I use the laptop for pretty much everything. But I still only moved the projects that I wanted to work on over to my ‘Writing’ folder.
Little did I realize how much that folder has grown since I bought this laptop.
Starting my project this weekend, I created a spreadsheet to track: Type of Fiction (long or short), Name, Word Count, Word Goal, % Complete. Started, Last Modified and Due Date. I decided to only include ‘Projects I wanted to work on’, just as above. Oy.
As of this writing, there are 58 projects on the list, totaling 568,124 words. That does not include blog posts.
The majority of the list is made up of short story IDEAS that I started, didn’t feel it, and moved on thinking I would come back to it when it felt right. Each has around 500 words associated with it, some more, some less, but still. A slew of unformed, unfinished projects taking up space, brain power and precious time.
What an eye opener! A ridiculously depressing eye opener, but an eye opener nonetheless.
The exercise alone has taught me that I need to get a better hold of my brain and keep it in check!
I had no idea things had gotten so bad. Once I’d put the list together, I was stunned. I stared at it for like an hour off and on.
Prioritizing took even longer, but had to be done. I had to go through and really look at what I have written, what are just ideas, what has some substance, and what is worth working on. Not easy. Not fun. But necessary. I had to make hard decisions to put off things that sounded sexy and fun but were going to be time drains right now.
Coming out of this exercise, I have a list and a plan. Keeping myself on track and focused will be the tough part.
New Rules for ATFMB:
- I can only have 1 Scrivener Project open at a time
- I have to give every project/draft a due date on my little spreadsheet
- I have to hit my goal/due date before I can move onto something else