Darts On A Dartboard: How Do You Choose Your Next Project?

Let’s straight up reverse this shit.

Normally, I stand here on my wobbly soapbox (actually, it’s a milk crate, so you shut up) and I preach to you about How To Write and How To Be A Writer. That usually works out pretty well for me. It’s fuel for my ego-furnace. It makes it sound like I know what I’m talking about. It makes me appear tall. And plus, I really like milk crates. They just feel good to me. Maybe it’s because I was born in a milk crate. They didn’t have hospitals back when I was a wee tot on the farm. Best you could do was a box or a crate of some kind, and a little raccoon dressed up like a doctor. Ahh, good ol’ Doctor Wrigglefingers.

Did you know that Wikipedia has a picture of a raccoon’s penis bone? No, really.

…ah, shoot. This post has already jumped the track. I’m not 200 words into it and talking about the sexual instruments of common vermin. Might be a damn record.

Let’s see if we can’t get back on the road.

What I’m saying is, normally I blubber and stammer advice at you, but now?

Now I’m asking for your advice.

I’m finding myself at a point where it’s time to get moving on a new project. A personal project. Probably a novel, but maybe a screenplay. I literally have like, 10 possible things I can write. Over the course of years, my ideas basically engage in some Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest competition behind the scenes in my subconscious. Ideas that persevere — meaning, those ideas that I return to when I’m in the shower or mowing the lawn or having a tea party with the dogs — are ideas that will eventually find a home on paper. This means that, over time, I collect potential projects, but only the ones that really strike the right bell inside my brainchamber. (If I kept every idea I  had, I’d have a list of thousands of projects; I’d be buried beneath them. I get one or two new ideas a day. “Wouldn’t it be cool if…!”)

I won’t go into too much detail as to what these projects are. One of them is inadvertently a YA (Young Adult) kind of story, with a whiff of paranormal romance. A couple-few are horror, a couple-few are sci-fi, one is… I don’t even know, urban fantasy? One is… erm, supernatural crime? Then I’ve got sequels to Blackbirds, the novel that currently waits in the hands of the agent (and is being shopped around as we speak, probably earning said agent stunned glances and furrowed brows).

I’m not asking you to help me pick the particular project.

I’m asking you: how do you pick your project? What are the qualifications and considerations?

I’m really unsure as to which project to pick. Obviously, I want to write every last one of them — they survived in the gladiatorial arena, after all, stepping over the corpses of weaker ideas. The question is, in what order? The question is, which one now?

Looking over it, I can think of a few elements worth considering, but I don’t know how to weight these elements or if they’re the only elements on the table. What elements am I talking about?

Emotional Response

Some of these projects I respond to emotionally. That feels important, somehow. Two of them are about fathers and sons. The Blackbird sequels are very much about death (and my obsession with it), and are bound up in one of my favorite themes at present: Fate Versus Free Will. To have that emotional response is good. It means that, at least from where I’m sitting, I have an authentic and personal take on the subject. The downside is, that can also muddy up the story. You’re stirring up troubled waters. Instead of clarity, you might end up with gross turbidity.

And that, by the way, is a fun word to say.

“Turbidity.”

Say it with me: “Turbidity.”

It’s like a party in your mouth.

Fun Factor

Fun matters. The more fun a project is to write, the faster I write it. And, arguably, the more fun it is for the reader as a result. One of the sci-fi-ish novels would be loosely based on a short story of mine, “Product Placement.” That story was fun as hell to write, and I suspect that the same would come from the novel. The horror novels, too, would be a blast. I love to write horror. Horror fiction is like a vacation for me. Horrible, and on some level probably kind of fucked up, but true.

Still: fun ain’t everything. “Fun” also often countermands “challenging.” And challenging can be good.

Right?

Level of Challenge

Some projects will be more challenging than others. One of the horror novels — a little something-something I got cooking up which is kind of a “serial killer Western” — would be lean and mean. An easy 70k to write, probably. The YA project is much more robust. Not just in length, but it goes well-beyond the scope of a single novel. (Yes, it has Harry Potter comparisons. Please believe me, though, that this story’s been with me since before Harry Potter ever entered my worldview.) The Blackbirds sequels contains a character with whom I am very, very comfortable. I know her faults. I know her flavor. She is a comfortable pair of shoes, that one, and I could dance in those all night.

The one novel has been with me since I was maybe 18 or 19, and it has so many possibilities for What Happens Inside The Story that I can never get my head around it. I go around and around. I get lost in it, and am never able to decide. So, while the writing itself won’t be difficult, the planning would fucking murder me. (Ah, but-but-but, the result would also probably be rewarding.)

How much does that matter? In the end, the challenge on the front end might not have that much affect on what people read on the back end, right? (Heh. Back end. Don’t judge me.) Then again, do I really want to take on a project that’s going to bury me for a year? Or one I can do in three months? I’ve got other things on the table, so you’d think that something I can “fit in” amidst other work is a smart play. But maybe it’s not the best play in terms of quality, or output.

Work Put In

These projects are all at various stages of “planned.” The Blackbirds sequels — three of ‘em — are mind-mapped out. Robustly so. I know how those stories go. I could throw together an outline for the next one (tentatively titled Mockingbirds, as right now I have a bird thing going on), and move fast. One of the sci-fi stories, which is effectively a very weird time-travel retelling of the Pandora’s Box myth, is robustly researched. I have a notebook that literally bulges with notes. The others, not so much. They’d need more groundwork. More attention. More detail.

On the one hand, why not build off the work I’ve done? On the other, is that the only consideration?

Commercial Viability

Hey, I hate to think it, but I have to wonder: will this sell?

The Blackbirds sequels — my initial plan was to just dive in. Of course, if the novel doesn’t actually sell, then is that really the smartest idea? To start building an empire of unsellable books with a protagonist nobody wants to read? (To be clear, if that first book doesn’t sell, I will find a way to get it out there. I love it too much to just let it sit here.) YA is certainly hot right now, as is anything with “paranormal” or “supernatural” attached to it, but by the time I get through these, will they be hot? Trends are a moving target, and you’re better off not trying to hit them, I think. That said, if your novel is a philosophical “road novel” starring James Joyce and a talking can of paint, and it’s written partly in Aramaic, and it’s about 350,000 words long, then that’s probably not a “commercially viable” novel.

If I’m writing a book I don’t think will sell, then as The Guy Who Wants To Make Money From Writing, I’m basically hamstringing myself with a rusty knife before the race even begins.

What Else? What Am I Missing?

How do you judge? What factors are most important for you in regards to choosing a project? Do you even have this problem? I don’t get writer’s block, but I damn sure can get jammed up with this question. I won’t let it paralyze me — if I don’t  figure it out before too long, I will throw a dart and see which project it pierces. I’d obviously prefer to have “randomness” not end up as the chief vector of choice, y’know?

So. Help me out, Faithful Terribleminds Readers. You are collectively one giant Obi-Wan.

You, giant Obi-Wan, are my only hope.

46 comments

    • @Josh:

      Sum that up for me, though — that post *hints* at it, but I don’t know that it comes straightaway to say how you chose that project? Your wife helped you decide, clearly, but then there’s also considerations of “what am I good at?” and some level of enjoyment. What was most important for you? What was the final nail in the coffin for that decision?

      (Also: how’s The Project going?)

      – c.

  • I don’t think there’s been a single way that each of the projects have come.
    -”1000 things a new actors should know” Came about because i sensed a need. Mainly from friends occasionally asking me how one goes about getting cast and acting in shows.
    (Short Answer: Show up.) But it also occurred at the time to make something for people who didn’t have the kind of mentoring that i ended up getting at school

    -”Out in the Night Air” came about because i was trying to impress a girl. Okay, only partially. I was playing a character that was a writer. More or less a vampiric version of Hunter S. Thompson. And being THAT sort of writer, all i really had to do was turn up at Camarilla Larps and get good and frothing mad about something. My PC PInky Berkowitz kept writing these semi-coherent screeds in a blog journal i created. The blog itself grew over the course of a year until i realized about 2 months shy of Origins, (Where i would see the girl i was trying to impress.) I realized i had about 21 short to middling length essays written. At that point, i said to myself. “Self. How far can we push it before Origins hits?
    At the time it was the longest project i had ever written and it proved to me that i could in fact EAT the Elephant, as long as i took small bites.

    - “Under the Table and Bleeding” Was Pinky’s second book. Praxis change, personal betrayal, and being dumped by the girl, left both Pinky and I grasping for some kind of new meaning. We found it by jumping ship to the Ordo Dracul from the Carthians. The book also was meant as a way to keep writing in Pinky’s voice. I find i am much better at writing something “In Character” as it were. and writing with pinky was fun. It had to be, although i lobbied WWGS, they weren’t going to allow me to publish my books, even for just the Camarilla audience. I can give the PDF’s away on my website. But hardcopy distribution is, as they informed me, Trademark Infringement. Money was never the point of either of those projects, so i lost nothing and learned quite a bit. Wish i’d gotten the girl though.

    -”The World Famous Crank Report” blog was something i got into many years ago. It came out of desire to treat each and every game i participated in as a learning experience, and as a means to learn and teach how to “Game Smarter”
    Game theory is a tricky beast at times, especially approaching it from the standpoint of good Role playing games can approach Art. But if you’re really doing it right, they can be Art…and they can be Art, regularly.
    One of these days i’ll have the impetus to try and turn the WFCR into a book of it’s own but it will require massive restructuring i think, before it can be viable as a project in it’s own right.

    -”The Ebon Shelf” I already talked about here. But in a way it too was about grokking something that was missing from my gamer toolkit and since no one else seemed to be building it, i had to build it myself.

    • @Pete:

      So, basically, you’re saying that each came about from a different need, right? Problem is, I have only one need, and it’s “Want To Write Something And Get That Goddamn Thing Published.” :)

      – c.

  • Arbitrarily cut half the projects. Wait a while (a few hours, a day), and then look back at the list remaining.

    If you’re upset that anything’s missing from that list, write what’s missing.

    If you’re excited about everything remaining, cut the list in half again.

  • @Chuck:

    The two rounds to the decisions’ chest were the talk with my wife and the subsequent ruminations on what I’m good at. What put the last round in its head and made things final was the realization that I was, and am, passionate about the idea. Not just because it’s a fantasy setting with cool magical powers and dragons and whatnot, but also because I want to do something new and different with the setting rather than march in the footsteps of Tolkien or Rawling. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those geniuses, but I happen to think I have some ideas of my own that might actually work.

    Project just passed the 10% completion mark in terms of first draft. It’s coming in fits and starts mostly due to my day job schedule and the resulting exhaustion I combat on a daily basis afterwards. Weekends are my friend. So is Jameson’s.

  • In other words, I picked the Project because it made me come alive.

    “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

    • @Josh:

      Awesome. So, really, what we’re talking about is passion.

      That wasn’t really one of the elements I’d been considering. “Fun” and “emotional investment” are neighbors to it, I think, but maybe forthrightly specifying it as passion is the way to go.

      I’ll take a gander at it that way.

      Thanks!

      – c.

  • That I may not be able to help you with then. It seems like all i’ve ever been good at is finding the hole in the world. Thankfully, I was able to teach myself how to plug it. I like Eddy’s idea though. a sort of ruthless prioritization.

    I will say, what all the above projects share in common is a the distinct lack of a beginning, middle, and end. I felt the need to write about certain stuff, and sort of stopped when the project had reached a certain level of “heft” and started looking for a way to tie it all up.

    I’m not really sure i could recommend my method to anyone looking to deal with traditional narrative structure as a result.

  • Hey, it’s March, this is America. Bracket those puppies out. Screenplays to the left, Novels to the right. Horror on the top, other on the bottom. Seed your babys, let ‘em get all sweaty in the mental gym, let the little ESPN guys in your head do some color commentary, start and office pool. Then write whichever one is Coached by Bobby Knight, ’cause that one will have the type of weird ass emotional train wreck motherfucking shit that we won’t be able to help but stare at.

    • So, the top dogs are thrown back into competition? Hmm. How do determine winners of individual matchups, though? Hmm? HMM? Answer me that, @Danny Boy!

      (What’s that? Get drunk and throw knives at different ideas taped to the wall? Okay!)

      –c.

  • I don’t think about any of those things you listed. Well, maybe the emotional connection. Mostly my system for choosing what I write is, “Who is screaming loudest in my head at this moment?” Yeah, each idea has a notebook and a computer file. The loudest gets my attention for the day.

    Right now though I am concentrating on heavy edits so I can start querying my WIP, but some days I put it aside and appease the masses in my head by jotting synopsis or outlines of their stories.

    That probably doesn’t help does it? Good luck choosing.

    • Charity:

      Well, it helps in the short term, and if we were talking short story or something, whichever one is loudest would win.

      But a novel or screenplay, man, it takes too much time to do it that way. Further, the one that screams the loudest this week ain’t the one that screams the loudest next week.

      I’ve literally thought of just randomizing the list, writing it down, and go through it one by one, scratching them off till they’re done. Seriously.

      – c.

  • I don’t see any references to scary phrases like “legal obligation” or “under pain of death”, which are usually good places to start.

    I haven’t made any money from my fiction work, so for me I always go first for the project that makes me giggle. Between two projects with equal giggle-factors, I go for the one with the cooler title. Rereading that, I guess I pick projects based on whether they will make me feel awesome for having written it.

    When advising someone else, I guess I’d recommend at least starting whatever project makes you the most uncomfortable. And I don’t just say that because I enjoy inflicting discomfort on people (I do) but because that’s usually the best path to having better choices next time you’re at this juncture.

  • Please take this advice with this caveat: I’ve written a novel some would describe as literary fiction and it is being published by an academic press.

    Is it useful to ask: if the completed projects were all arrayed in a book store or movie theater, which would you spend money on?

    • Kevin:

      Interesting. So, which would I most likely earn my cash above the others? (They’d all be stuff I’d want to buy, as I don’t tend to hold onto ideas that don’t engage me.) I don’t know that this is an easy answer, but I can think of maybe two or three of them that would be “first buys” above the others…

      Thanks!

      – c.

  • I am not as refined as you all. :(

    The project that gets worked on next is the one Screaming In My Head the loudest. There’s normally several in the subconscious fermenting, and if they ever become ripe, the float to the surface. If not, the continue to bob. Of course if an anthology or other opportunity comes up, I may shove the WIP aside to see if I can churn something for that.

    So far it’s worked for me okay. (Except 2008 when the muse went INSANE and I had to do a bunch of “Supernatural” fanfics to get her on track again. The poor WIP that got set aside finally got completed in Dec 2009! I set a goal darn it! It got done. Did delude myself by saying I could use the fanfics as promo and have. :P )

  • I have no system, really. Soulbinder, my current WIP, has been in development hell for about a year. Right now, it’s the one I’m most inspired to work on, even though I have far more work done on the bible and plot of my original fantasy world. So that’s what I’ve been putting my time towards, more or less to the exclusion of everything else.

    Also, I don’t think the market’s run on paranromal/supernatural yet. I don’t think it’s going to play out for a long, long time to come. What I think people really need to see is quality works in the genre, not the mass-produced semi-rancid pap constantly churned out by the likes of Stephanie Meyer and Laurell K. Hamilton.

    • @Maggie:

      Well — again, predicting trends is tricky, and almost dangerous. Like, the run could go, what, 2-3 more years? So, it takes me 6 months to write, then revise the novel. Then a year to publish. Or more. By then, who knows? Seems to me you’re right about one thing: quality. Writing well is the best defense against trend deflation.

      – c.

  • I had been thinking more in the emotional, personal sense: if you’re poking a tender spot, then I figure you’re getting at 1) something important to you, and b) possibly something you haven’t really done before, a place where there aren’t any emotional callouses yet.

    It might make for a miserable writing experience, sure. But it might be freeing, though possibly less in the “I’m not afraid to skydive!” sense and more in the “Wow, when did I get comfortable saying ‘pigfucker’ in front of grandma?” sense: either of which can lead to more opportunities and ideas.

  • I do this just about every time I have a slate of projects on my hands. Granted, sometimes I’m sincerely stuck and I throw it out for a public poll, but if a certain project is ahead and I’m like “meh,” then I know my answer that way, too.

  • I say select a friend whose skill and knowledge is greater than yours and have them select the project for you.

    That’s why I say you should do “The Gummy Dropship Massacres of Istvaan IV!”

    It’s an epic involving space marines, gummy bears, and a subtle yet moving sub plot involving the Chaplain of Graham’s 3rd Cracker Unity and the Gummy Princess.

    Now that I’ve (hopefully) made you chuckle, I know this is a tough task ahead of you. I know I have problems with having too many projects. In the end I find the frustration actually helps me. If I’m just dying to work on another project but I need to finish the project in front of me first I tend to work harder at it. Kind of like “No cake until you finish your asparagus.”

    Which always confused me because I like asparagus with balsalmic vinegar more than most cakes…..mmmmm, asparagus….

  • Just don’t choose the western/fantasy. I got that angle covered, man.

    Other than that, pick the one that you think about the most. That’s oversimplified, but my mind kinda works like a rat terrier. It sheds a lot, craps on the lawn, licks its balls and does a little anal rubbing, and then once its taken care of the itchy anus and its balls are glistening, it wanders down to the wharf and watches until it spies the biggest fatty rodent and grabs that motherfucker up and worries it until all the rat-bones go crunchy.

    I might’ve taken that metaphor too far. I’m not good at them.

  • What gets my attention in my precious work hours? I prioritize via a simple formula: (how much money it would earn ) / ( how much time it will take). Period. Sure, there are other projects that are artistically grander, less commercial, harder to pull off… and my brain will keep them bubbling and slowly developing on it’s back burner. At some point, that development (that will happen whether I dedicate time to it or not) will eventually bring the project to a point where it’s worth the investment of work hours.

    • @Josh:

      Interesting. Not sure I can make that calculation so easily. The “how much time will it take” is… easier to figure out, as I know my Writer Stats.

      But how much money would it earn?

      *blank stare*

      I mean, we’re assuming it’ll sell, which is already a big assumption. Once there, I’ve zero idea how much I could earn from any of these novels or screenplays. Technically, a script is a better earner if it gets even close to the finish line — in fact, a script can earn me $$ without even being made. And a script is fast (compared to a novel, at least).

      – c.

  • I go back to the shower. Whatever project leaves me standing in the shower thinking until the water runs cold is the one I’ll do next.

    (Two cents you don’t need… Please write a YA before or right when my children are YA age. This gives you ten years. Thank you– Your fanbase.)

  • Chuck,

    First, I’d like to say that I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago (due to a link I found on your Writers Don’t Do That post) and have been an avid follower ever since. Seriously. You had me at “lascivious muse-fucker.” Anyway, I can’t comment from my computer at work, which is when I do the majority of my blog reading, becuz of their stupid firewalls or whatever. So please know that I’m commenting in spirit to each of your posts. And laughing my ass off.

    Second…do the YA paranormal fantasy!!! I’m not going to give you any advice on how you should choose. I’m just going to command you to do the one in which I am most interested, and pretend that you will bend to my whim without any further thought. (Did it work?)

    Honestly, I have no authority on the matter of choosing one project from many. I’m working on my Paranormal Romance novel (rewriting stage), but it’s my first attempt at actually writing for a career. I think the whole shower thing has merit, though. That’s where the characters for my book introduced themselves to me the first time. After that, they wouldn’t let me go until I started typing.

    Good luck, Chuck. I can’t wait to read your YA PR. :D I love your writing style (I read your Product Placement story today, too) and I’m dying to know what that story would be like.

    Gina Leigh :)

    • @Filamena:

      Well, the one I thought of in the shower this afternoon was the porn movie starring me and three sexy robots.

      No, wait, no. It was the YA series. That’s the one my brain went to.

      So, your kids might be happy with that decision.

      – c.

    • @Gina Leigh –

      Yay! New reader!

      Time for the hazing to begin! Let in the clowns!

      The YA is definitely ringing my bell right now. I like to think it has legs, and I really have had it in mind (in various forms) for 10+ years. So, it’s possible that Your Wish is My Command. Or, Your Command is The Shit I Do. Or something?
      :)

      Welcome to terribleminds, by the by.

      – c.

  • Sorry, guy. If you don’t know what project to pick, the answer is none of the above.

    You’re a freelance writer, you’re planning a personal project–to me, this is the place to stretch beyond my comfort zone–and you don’t know which of your current ideas to pick. Which one *must* you write, right now? None.

    So let them all go. If they don’t come back, it wasn’t meant to be.

    When I’m getting ready to start a project, I ask myself, what’s obsessing me lately? How am I beating my head against the wall? Who have I met or become more closely acquainted with lately? What particular dilemma catches my attention in the news? –All ways of dragging up the undertow. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Don’t be rational about it if you can help it; listen more closely for what compels you. A theme will keep coming up. For me, it’s been “dealing with anger vs. dealing with injustice.”

    I am waiting for the second I have met my deadlines and kept my promises to write the story of a woman who tries to save her nephew from succumbing to the family’s curse–being possessed by a murder god–while struggling with the disease herself. I keep being reminded of The Ninth Gate for some reason. People tell me I should make the story include the nephew running into strange gods carved in caves in Iraq/Afghanistan. It’s a great idea, but it doesn’t obsess me, so I probably won’t use it.

    On the other hand, I have this idea for a Sherlockian-type murder mystery in which the detective investigates his own death, and I’ve been sitting on it for over a year. I’m going to pitch it to some clients and see if I can sell it before I write it; if not, I’ll keep it on the back burner until someone lays out cash for it.

    • @De:

      I’m… not clear on the advice, exactly? If I let them go, some other project will eventually fill the space — not a personal project, but a big freelance one, and any window of opportunity I’d had might be gone.

      Thing is, these projects all obsess me in some small (or large) way. But I don’t want to hang my coat on the hook of obsession, because obsession wanes and waxes with me. Obsession, like the muse, cannot be the fire that keeps me going.

      – c.

  • Yes, send in the clowns! ;)

    LMAO – I definitely like My Command is the Shit You Do. So, go forth, and do the voo doo that you do so well. (You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power. What power? The power of voo doo. Who doo? You do, remind me of the babe!) lol Sorry. I just watched Labrynth the other night. I love me some Goblin King music.

    Okay, now go get something done on that YA PR for me, before it’s time for you to get on your milk crate again with yet another yarn of wisdom spun from your mystical beard. Or better yet, scratch the YA aspect and throw in lots of (non-gratuitous, of course) hot sex. Cuz that’s the way I likes ‘em! :)

    [Side Thought: since when did teenagers become "young adults"? Don't you have to be at least 18 to be considered ANY kind of an adult? Therefore, I propose that being an adult for a mere 14 years (at the ripe age of 32), I am in fact a young adult. And I will remain as such until I reach the age of sayyyyyyy....45 or so, at which time I can then be considered an OLD adult. There you have it. Some food for thought on the YA title issue. Masticate the marvel of it and revel in the aftertaste.]

  • I just finished up a chapter for my book, so I can take a break and share my thoughts.

    Solution: write.

    Yeah, that’s a crappy solution that no one wants to hear, so let me give the nice version. Some of your projects will have legs, and some of your projects will sink and rot away. But you don’t know until you start them and finish them.

    If I was in your shoes, I would do one a week. I know you cannot write a novel in a week, but if the story has legs to be a novel, you’ll turn out a couple of chapters in that week and some revisions to your outline.

    My current novel is a short story that would not end. I wrote 10k words and realized that I was nowhere near the end. So I’m converting those 10k words into 4-5 chapters and building out the rest. I should end about 80k words with about 30ish chapters.

    If you find yourself stuck, then move onto another project. But write towards finishing something each day. I’m also working on my second draft of a 7k word story I wrote two weeks ago. I figure when I’m stuck on my novel I can work on the re-write and then get back to the novel. But I must finish the first draft of the novel before May.

    Anyway, I hope this helps.

    • @Brian:

      I’ve considered that: just sit down, write, even if it’s not to be used, and see what “feels” good. Thing is, I can’t rely on the whole novel to feel that way — novels are a marathon, not a sprint, and what “feels good” in the front may not feel good in the middle (or vide versa).

      But it still might be worth it just to see what characters get the best response from me.

      Thanks, Brian!

      – c.

  • Another personal project should fill the space – but it might be a combination of two previous projects, it might be something totally new. I’m not saying any writer should sit around and wait for inspiration, but I’d take a walk for a day and find out what’s important because of what keeps coming up in my thoughts, not force myself to decide on something because it hits me emotionally or because of the money I might make off it.

    Obsession, muses, inspiration, passion–these things are important. You can’t live as a slave to them, true, but if it isn’t some kind of weird compulsion that helps keep you going, why bother? Why not take a desk job somewhere and operate on autopilot?

    There’s a difference between an idea that catches your interest and a story that you have to write; your projects sound like they interest you but not like they compel your actions and drag you along.

    • De:

      We’ll have to politely disagree on that one.

      I suspect we just don’t work the same way. I have these ten or so projects, and they all compel me, which is where I have a log jam. On any given day I could happily start writing any one of these. It’s just a question of, which one now, and why?

      Obsession and inspiration are the things that put these ten projects on my plate. But obsession and inspiration are not what get them written. Diligence and discipline get them written.

      Just because I take a pragmatic look at my writing career doesn’t mean I might as well just settle into a desk job. That’s a bit crazy, isn’t it? Like, if I’m not some mad word-slinging poet urged by compulsion, I might as well push a broom or do actuary tables? I’m a full-time writer, which means I have to look at my choices with some semblance of logic. I have to temper passion with practicality. Otherwise, I don’t pay my mortgage.

      My point in saying “another project will fill the space” is that another project — not of my choosing, but a freelance project — will occupy that space. Which will have robbed me of the opportunity to take on a more personal project, then. That’s not ideal, hence, I need to make a decision, need to shit or get off the pot.

      As noted, I suspect we just write differently, and that’s okay. But I’m not driven by compulsions when it comes to writing. Why don’t I take a day job? Because I love to write. Writing for me is a slow burn, not a flash bang. Your mileage certainly may vary.

      – c.

  • Honestly, I choose my projects based on the emotion of it. Does it entertain me to put it on paper. That’s why some of my projects could be considered horror and others humor. Sometimes, it’s a combination, which is usually a good mix. Gotta keep it light before someone loses an appendage.

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