Sunday, September 4, 2016

Juggling Multiple Projects - How to Decide What to Work on Next

Here's me on the Iron Throne (from Game of Thrones, if you're not in the know). I'm feeling like I look pretty natural there. The only thing missing is that I did not yet have my WWJJD? (What Would Jessica Jones Do?) ribbon.

Still pretty kickass, though.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven (which totally sounds like a superhero group to me, to continue to riff on the theme), is "What next? How do you decide which projects when?"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

What is this "decide"?

Seriously - once upon a time this used to be an issue for me. I remember once making a list of a dozen or so story ideas and using a random number generator to decide which to work on next. Long gone are those days! 

Some of this comes from working with traditional publishing contracts. We end up "deciding" to work on whatever thing has the closest deadline. Due next week? DECISION MADE.

But it's also a natural consequence of writing series. If you have one, two, three, more books out there, then readers are going to be messaging about when the next one is coming out. That's a big decider, too. 

Of course, even with supposedly finished series, I get those messages, so...)

All this said, you know me. I keep a spreadsheet. 

OF COURSE I DO.

This is what mine looks like right now. I cropped so as to make it easier to read. As you can see, the "In My Court" section is the most salient. Right now I have four projects all solidly with me and none in "Someone Else's Court." Which is too bad, really. You'll also note that I classify them as either "Up to Bat" or "On Deck." The irony of me using sports metaphors for these should be lost on no one. On the other hand, the fact that I've mixed tennis with baseball says it all.

Also noteworthy is that THE NOISE OF FUR, which has a later deadline than THE TIDES OF BÁRA and SENSATION, is at bat. It seems counter-intuitive, but this is where my deciding comes in. I *had* planned to do revisions on that story starting 9/12 (which you'd be able to see if you could scroll to the right), but two things happened. First, Grace Draven, who is heading up the anthology, TEETH, LONG AND SHARP, that THE NOISE OF FUR is for, asked me if I could send my story to Ilona Andrews, who's writing the introduction. I didn't want to send it in bad condition. But then, second, I received the content edits from my editor and she thinks the story is in great shape! (Such relief!) So, I knew could both polish this story quickly and give it to Grace for Ilona to read. Thus, I did make a decision within my framework to move that up to being at bat and I'll do that today.

Sharp eyes might note that SENSATION and THE TIDES OF BÁRA share a deadline. This is an artifact of me getting behind schedule, which means the deadlines slid and stacked up against each other. In my head I know that the SENSATION deadline is a somewhat artificial one, and that's the one that will slide if one of them has to.

And if they all slide then... WWJJD?


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6 comments:

  1. A spreadsheet for all my ideas and works in progress is exactly what I was missing in my life. I need to do this. Thank you for posting this Jeffe!!

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    1. You're welcome! Love, the Spreadsheet Queen

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  2. Hi Jeffe,
    You know, I never thought of using an excel spreadsheet as my way of planning and keeping up with what I am writing and submitting, but you have just changed my mind.
    So thank you.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

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    1. Happy it's a useful idea for you! I'd be lost without mine. :-)

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  3. Of course, OF COURSE you would have a spreadsheet for your projects. ;) I do love that you have your completed list on the bottom. I would need that, a check off the list to feel accomplished. This is a great idea and one I will adopt once I have more than a couple of balls in the air. Maybe I need to borrow your tennis racket to knock one into someone else's court...or was that a baseball bat?

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    1. Cricket bats and badminton rackets! :D I didn't always keep the completed projects, but I do like having the record. Mainly it helps to go back and reference how long a project took at various stages or what the timing was.

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