Prioritising Problems By Lynne Garner

Until this year all my writing has been done for someone else to publish and not for myself. I've written for publishers and packagers, working to their deadlines and meeting their briefs. However now I've joined the growing band of writers writing for themselves, producing eBooks I am facing a problem I've never had before. I'll admit I've never been brilliant at prioritising and working out a schedule. But when working for someone else I was forced to at least try. However now I have deadlines I set myself and have to fit paying work around my writing destined to become an eBook.

My problem is I have stories taking over my brain demanding to be written. I have:

  • A tale of a rebellious child who is befriended by an aged neighbour
  • A story with an alternate universe, time travel and Scottish monsters
  • A spooky tale of a ghost lost in time
  • Twin sisters who don't know the other exists but can feel each others feelings

Plus a huge number of scribbled notes in pads that contain one-liners, overheard comments and ideas for characters and plots that require my attention. However I also have:

  • Three stories that a professional has proof read and I need to edit
  • Three stories that have reached first draft stage and require proof reading

At the moment it feels as if I need three of me. One to write the stories driving me bonkers (try living with a Scottish monster and a rebellious child residing in your head), a second to edit the stories that have been proof read and a third to edit my first drafts. As I realise this is not going to happen I need to start prioritising. So do I purge my head of these stories by writing them or get to work at editing?

How did I deal with this dilemma today? Well I've written this blog, taken the photograph to illustrate it, chased a bad debtor or two, sent a few non-work related emails, walked the dog twice and done a little eBaying. Perhaps tomorrow I'll ponder my problem and work out what to prioritise then.

Lynne Garner


madwippitt said…
I have no idea! But do please let me know if you find a solution: while I was working on two and a half books it was manageable by dividing the day and allowing more time for the nearest deadlines ... but I know seem to have a list of fourteen clamouring for attention!
Dan Holloway said…
I think we all always feel as though our heads are strange places densely populated with fearful things, but you've put your finger perfectly on a very particular problem for self-publishers - there's no one to tell us which of those fearful things to corral into our next book.

In a way we need more rules as self-published than regular published authors. We need an even louder voice shouting "write the next one in the series" because there's no commissioning editor e-mailing us to do it. And after all, we self-published in part for the freedom. The freedom to write that 300,000 word one about the lizard who gives up eating insects and goes on a pilgrimage to Santiago with a feral cat if that's what we want to do. And yes, we do have that freedom.

I've never had long fiction regularly published (I do have a column in a bimonthly magazine, and I've worked on serial pamphlets, though, and claustrophobia doesn't come close!). Frankly the idea gives me the sweats. It's a world full of shoulds. Self-publishing, on the other hand, is a world full of coulds. Only the presence of all those coulds means the shoulds have to be louder than ever. It's almost more frustrating than not having the coulds at all. But only almost :))

Very best of luck deciding, Lynne - and remember, there's always drawing straws (and sometimes that's not actually so daft). Thank you for an excellent and timely post :)
Lynne Garner said…
Dan thank you I think I may just resort to pulling straws - I know I have some stashed away somewhere
Joan Lennon said…
I'm up to my eyeballs in shoulds at the moment and long for the moment I can get back to wants - so I do sympathise. Sadly, I guess it just goes with the territory. Sigh.

Popular posts

Writing Cold Environments - Elizabeth Kay

Dudley's Devil by Susan Price

Is Anyone Shooting At Me? - Surprise Lessons from an Ocean Race. -- Julia Jones

Is a picture worth a thousand words? by Julia Jones

Writing to help children save the world - Kathleen Jones