Too Many Ideas Isn’t The Problem.
After reading Tim Ward’s post on having too many ideas and writing projects going on at once. I went into my own file of incomplete manuscripts and had a little experience that prompted this post.
Read Tim’s post here: http://timothycward.com/?p=386
So how many projects going at once is too many?
Some time back, I decided I would not have any more than two active writing projects going on at any given time. The reason was I was having a hard time finishing anything, and my writingtemp folder was getting too fat for my taste. When I first started writing, my writing time was so erratic, I could go a month without touching a manuscript. By then, of course, I’d have lost enthusiasm for that project and move on to the latest idea that had me excited. That was when Heinlein’s Rule #2 owned me in every way.
This change I made, has really helped keep me focused and completed some of these projects. I’d be having a lot more success, if not for some lingering problems in my time management.
Today, I went into my writingtemp folder on my desktop and found I was down a half dozen or so different manuscripts. I think this folder peaked at close to fifteen or so stories, at one time. Some I scrapped because I just didn’t like them. Some of the remaining stories had a couple of files each from when I tried to revisit those stories on more than one occasion later on…and still not finishing them.
The experience came when I happened across my NaNoWriMo novel for ’09. It didn’t have a title. I opened the file and started reading. I liked it. I got about ten pages in and suddenly stopped, thought for a second, and scrolled through the rest, stopping to read a paragraph every now and then.
What I discovered was I had about 10,000 words that I seemed to like, but couldn’t, for the life of me, remember what that story was supposed to be about. It made me kind of angry.
I’m one that subscribes to Dean Wesley Smith’s notion that every word we type should be treated as inventory that needs to be moved. The stories that I scrapped out of the folder previously were very early work from back when I was trying to find my voice and my process. This story seemed like it was going somewhere I wanted to go, so rather than waste that inventory, I’ll keep it on file and revisit again. I’ll figure out something for it and those words will go back to work for me.
The moral of this story is finish what you start. Please!!!
There are a good many writers that can work on several things at once and get them done, most are seasoned professionals. Kevin J. Anderson is one of the best examples I can think of. Most of us, myself included, aren’t that lucky. A new writer can get more and more frustrated when that pile of unfinished stories starts to grow, and when they pick one up and can’t remember what it was supposed to be about. That’s a problem. It’s just the type of thing that can start a writer that hasn’t solidified their writing discipline down the road to being someone will tinker with a manuscript every now and then, but never publishes. Worse yet, when they FINALLY do finish something, they won’t be able to bring themselves to publish or even hand it over to first readers out of fear. The fear arising out of the thought that all of those years of poking, prodding, and tinkering were wasted because someone might not like it.
The more we write, the better our work will be. The more we FINISH what we write, the more the fear of failure will dissipate, and the more confidence we will have in taking the control over our careers that the new age of publishing allows.