Writing Wednesdays: How to prioritise your writing projects

How do you prioritise your writing projects? I share a few pieces of advice in this post.

I’ve always tried to be strict with myself when it comes to how many writing projects I take on at once. I used to be much better at only working on one – maybe two, at most – stories at once. Since I started writing fanfic, I’ve usually got at least five stories I can pick up and put down whenever I feel like working on them.

But I’m still strict with myself in that I only work on one ‘serious’ project at a time.

(Not that fanfic isn’t serious writing. But I try to think of my stories in terms of ‘What would I publish?’ – aka ‘serious work’ – and the other stuff, which is usually fanfic.)

Anyway. Prioritising.

It’s bloody difficult to stay focused on a single project, especially when you start getting new ideas for new books and new characters and new plots… So here are my few pieces of advice.

First things first: do you have any deadlines?

If you’re working on something that you’ve got a deadline for – maybe a deadline from an agent or publisher, or even just a personal deadline of ‘I want to finish this by the end of the summer’, then make sure that’s what you put the most effort into. You don’t have to abandon other writing projects if you don’t want to, but channel most of that writing enthusiasm into your Deadline Looming Project.

Are you publishing anything online?

If you’re posting a book online and sharing it with readers that way, try to keep them in mind. That book needs to be a priority if you want to keep your readers and build your readership up.

Speaking of – you might also like this post on how to grow your audience when you publish online.

Try to keep in mind which project you’re most serious about.

Are you working on something you hope to get published? Are you working on a few books that you’d never let see the light of day but are only doing because they’re fun to write? Figure out which one you’re most serious about.

Are you almost finished with any of them?

If you’ve got a book you’re working on that’s close to being finished – finish it! Give it one last push and get through to the end. There’s always a danger that if you step back so close to the end and start something new, you’ll never finish it. Tie off any loose ends before picking up new ones.

It can help, if you’re working on several projects at once, to set yourself deadlines. That might be ‘Get to 30k words on Project One by the end of the week’ or it might be ‘Finish Project One by end of July and finish Project Two by end of August.’ But giving yourself some kind of structure can be really helpful in keeping you on track and motivated.

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to work on more than one book at a time but is always getting new ideas: get a notebook. Get a dedicated notebook for all those story ideas so you can jot them down so they’re ready to come back to when you’re ready. Plus, it makes sure you don’t forget any of those fantastic ideas – and that you don’t start working on them and then running away with them, the project you had been working on completely forgotten.

Moving on from that, I’d say it’s a good idea to make notes on whatever you’re working on. Whether that’s using tools online or a notebook, just make sure you keep notes.

For the project I’ve just started on I started a new notebook and made more extensive notes on my characters. I’m also keeping track of what happens in each chapter, so I can track the plot better. Previously, my notes have been a lot less structured, but I’ve still kept notes. They’re invaluable. You can never keep enough notes, especially when you’re juggling a few books at once.

Something I like to do every so often is take stock of where I am on whatever projects I’ve got in the pipeline. Word counts, how much more I think I’ve got to go, any editing. Again: jot it all down in a notebook. It’ll help you sort things out if you can see them all on paper.

Do you struggle to prioritise your projects? What are some things you do to make sure you keep track of your stories? Share in the comments below!

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