So I just finished a huge project for a magazine that assigns me stories about four times a year. The projects are crazy complicated, involving tons of emails and phone calls, long interviews, close examinations of product features, and surveys of prices at a range of retail stores and websites. I may have a byline when the issue comes out, but truth be told, there’s a lot less writing and a lot more research when it comes to this particular magazine.
Anyway, it’s kept me tied up — no exaggeration — since mid-June. And when things felt a little tedious during the long, hot summer, the thought of free time to write my own stuff kept me going. No more assignments at least until winter, I promised myself. September through November would be my time to work on exactly what I wanted to work on.
But, now that September is here — what, exactly, do I want to work on?
It’s not that I have no ideas — it’s just that I’ve been imagining so many projects since June that I don’t know which to concentrate on. Now I’m not saying that any of these ideas are good or will eventually be completed (or deserve to be completed, for that matter); but even though I’m not now on someone else’s clock, time is still limited, and I want to make the most of the time I have.
So…do I work on the novel that’s nearly done, on the theory that this idea takes priority because it’s (arguably) the easiest to complete?
Or do I work on the idea that’s got my imagination going, even though, at least for me, new ideas always take the most time and show the least progress.
Do I leverage my research from this summer to develop some new magazine queries, since these ideas are the most likely to find their way into print?
Or do I play around with some genre — romance? paranormal? — that I’ve been tempted to try for a while?
Lately I’ve taken to doing a little of everything, hoping that one of these ideas will emerge as the one I truly want to pour myself into.
But I don’t know if that will actually happen — and for now, none of these ideas is gaining any momentum. And November is not that far away.
With life so busy, how do you decide what you want to work on?
Another undecided day in the life of just another working writer.