If you are like me, you probably have way too many partial projects that you have been trying to juggle for the longest time. You have all these great ideas for books you haven’t written. Or maybe you did start them, but they’re only partially complete. You have ideas you probably don’t even remember writing down which are actually pretty good, and hey, you should write them one day. Having a lot of story ideas is great… until it isn’t.
What we are talking about today is combating overwhelm in a way that will not only give you clarity and focus but also bring you the results you are working so hard for. After all, no matter how many stories you write, none of them will make you feel more like an author than the ones that make it to publishing.
= Step One =
Make a dump file of all your incomplete stories and ideas. There are several ways that you can effectively complete projects, but first, you must write down all the incomplete projects you have. Did I mention this might actually take a while?
Go through all your computer files, all your folders, all the notebooks and binders and sticky notes that you probably have everywhere. Anything that you see that is not immediately dismissed or which is in some state of actually becoming something someday should be put onto a list.
When you are done, take out a highlighter, and highlight the 3-5 stories that you feel excited to write, are most likely to become full novels, or have the most complete ideas. Doing this has really helped me because there were stories I was halfheartedly working on that were 30,000 words in and I was so stuck on them because I hadn’t planned them well enough, but I wouldn’t let them go.
Keep in mind that niche genre stories may not make a whole lot of people want to read your book. If there isn’t demand for it but you want to write the story anyway, by all means, do so, but realize that it will likely not help you grow your readership much. Always keep your bigger picture in mind.
= Step Two =
List the steps that are needed to bring each story to its completion, 100% published and done. This may take you even longer. Think in terms of the big picture. On my list, the steps would be like: Brainstorming, Worldbuilding, Character Creation, Outlining, # Draft, # Edit, # Critique, Beta Readers, Final Draft, Designing, Marketing, Publishing.
You’ll be able to see right away how close or far off something truly is, and that’s a powerful tool. There is no need to break it down any smaller at this time.
= Step Three =
Now that you can see exactly how much still needs to be completed, try one of these options.
Look at each story idea and decide which one is the closest to completion, or has the least number of steps. Pick something near completion and finish it. Prioritize what’s left and start again.
Complete the biggest project first and use it as a motivator.
Look at each story idea and decide which one is the furthest from completion, or has the most number of steps. Pick something far from completion and finish it. Prioritize what’s left and start again.
Ask yourself what you are most excited to write about.
Look at each story idea and decide which one is the most exciting one to write about. Write about that. Prioritize what’s left and start again.
Find out which one you are most likely to get paid to write.
I know, it isn’t about the money. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
Having an author income that could help you stay at home and write for a living is worth looking into, because if you weren’t worried about working full-time at your day job, you could focus on doing more work, and getting more novels out there. It’s a legitimate strategy, to write what’s going to be a hit first, so you can gain the traction you need in order to quit that day job and do what you love.
Pro Tip: Focus on one novel at a time.
This might seem really difficult at first, but no matter which strategy you choose, it is really important to focus on getting one book published at a time. This helps you to always be in the right mindset when you write, because you are only really thinking about one book, one world, one set of characters.
If you have ideas for other stories during this time, it’s totally okay to go and write them down. Get them all out of you at once, and then return to the main novel you are focusing on. This is great because you won’t get caught up chasing sidequests while your main storyline gets put on hold.
What do you do in order to combat overwhelm and make sure you complete your projects? Let me know in the comments below!