Coming up with ideas has never been a problem for me. I have tons for both fiction and non-fiction running rampant in my head at any given time. I suppose the better question is, how do I decide what to focus on at any given time?
Organizing my thoughts is the first key for me. When I have an idea, I know I must write it down somewhere or it will go the way of the dinosaur – extinct. Good ole’ ‘Word’ still works, and I put all of these snippets, outlines and what have you into various folders in my online file cabinet. (a.k.a. Dropbox) Never trust only your hard drive or a memory stick, which is another story altogether! Recently, I’ve taken to using Scrivener as an organizational tool as well. It is such a useful tool even beyond the writing and formatting.
Once I can find my writing ideas, I must make a decision about what to write when. Obviously, deadlines help. If a blog post or article is due on a specific date, the decision is easy. I keep a writing calendar with all of my deadlines on it and try to set aside time each week for these types of writing tasks in order to stay ahead of the game. But what about projects that don’t have deadlines? How can I manage to give them the focus they deserve when there are so many other things vying for my time?
I heard a suggestion at a writers’ conference that I have since tried with some success. If you plan to publish a book on Amazon, for instance, you can upload a rough draft and set a release date. If you don’t get the edits done by that time, the rough version will go live on Amazon. Yikes! That’s some serious motivation! I’ve found this kind of external deadline works well for me. Of course, it’s really only a trick of the mind. I could, at any time, choose to change the publication date or delete the project altogether.
I set arbitrary deadlines for myself all the time. The fact is, if I don’t meet them, I just change them, bumping each date forward as necessary. Still, I find having some kind of goal keeps me motivated, even if it’s not a matter of life or death. There is something about a deadline that works wonders psychologically.
That’s my two cents on the topic of deciding what to write. – literally. Two things are necessary: Get organized and set deadlines. These two seem to work for me.
Tracy Krauss continues to write relentlessly from her home in northern BC, where she also teaches secondary school Art, Drama, and English. Visit her website for more about her many published books and plays. http://tracykrauss.com -fiction on the edge without crossing the line-