The Project List part 2
So, you have a Project List? That long-and-getting-longer list of half ideas and semi-stories? I just finished mine this week. Then I had to find where I had put it before I wrote it out again. Now it’s in my notebook, the ubiquitous capture tool. (Now, why wasn’t my notebook handy like it’s supposed to be?)
The list is 11 items long. Each list item has the designation S (short story), N (novel), or SN (short story or novel, potential for both). It is in no particular order and in no way shows how far along each item is toward completion.
Behind each cryptic list item is a well of energy. At least, that’s how I’m looking at it. Some items have a lot of energy behind them. Some seem more sluggish. These latter ones maybe will not last long on this list; some day they may return to the chaotic abyss of random ideas that are my notebook entries.
It’s the former items I’m most interested in. The ones with a lot of energy in the well. One of them is a completed story. Others have a lot of energy because they have real plots and need to be written. Others catch my imagination enough that I am enthusiastic about developing them.
What am I going to do? Well, I have already started. The finished short story is the one I’ve posted about before. It has the most energy and so gets first attention. After identifying the project I’m going to work on, I will determine the next logical action that will advance the project toward completion. This is what Dave Allen (of Getting Things Done fame) calls the next step. For this story, the next step (because I have already edited it on paper) is to key the changes into the electronic copy. That is DONE as of my lunch break at work yesterday. The next step is to submit the manuscript to the Critters workshop for critiquing. That was also DONE yesterday, after a little formatting for use in the workshop. The next step now is to wait until it works its way through the queue. This project suddenly drops in energy, there is not much I can do with it right now. So, I move on to the next project with the highest energy.
In this case, it is another short story. On Wednesday, the direction this story should take came to me in a little flash of insight, and so I am jazzed to get going on it. The next step is to take the insight and write out a short outline. I’m not good at writing outlines, but I feel the need for one now.
It feels good to have a next thing to do. And since I am not trying to grasp the project globally I am not very overwhelmed. Writing a short outline is a small thing, so it’s something I can do without problem. Once that is DONE I will figure out what the next step is after that. And I suggest that the Project List/next step method could be a good way to approach cranking out a plot. I’m somewhat new at this, so what you’re reading is an up-to-the-minute report of what I am trying so I can focus on writing. If something else works for you, please feel free to comment below. I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, keep cranking plot!