Writing–When Your Writing To Do List Horrifies Your Great-Aunt

I was talking to my roommate Carrie and my great-aunt at a family dinner on Sunday. Carrie mentioned that my writing to do list frightens her. I tried to explain to my great-aunt that I have A LOT of projects in various states and that I keep them organized in to do lists in One Note. I’ve got one master to do list broken up into categories.

-short stories

-current short story collection (which is different from the short stories list)

-The Storytime Jukebox (which is different from the short stories and short story collection lists)

-flash fiction project

-Murderville

-scripts

-poetry and essays

-novellas

-The Carpenter novellas (which is different from the novellas list)

novels

-The Outskirts novels (which is different from the novels list)

I actually didn’t even list all of the categories before I was stopped by the look of horror on my great-aunt’s face. She probably would have passed out if I told her what was on all of these lists.

I suppose to anyone outside of my brain, this seems like an overwhelming mess. It seems like a never-ending tidal wave of writing projects that threaten to drown me. It seems like a lifetime of work that I think I can do in a year. It seems like way, way too much. I suppose to someone who is not me, it seems like a bit of lunacy. Wouldn’t it be more practical to work on one project at a time, finishing it completely before moving on to the next?

Oh, wow, it would be really neat if I could do that. But I can’t. I’ve tried it and it turns out that it makes me crazy to not have a hundred projects in various states.

I have found that, for me, serious, intense focus on only one project at a time is not beneficial for me. Yes, I can sit down during NaNo and write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I can write the first draft of just about anything in one go without issue. I can revise one the same way. It can be the MAIN project I focus on, but it can’t be the ONLY project I’m dealing with. My brain is just too full for that, too scattered.

Having so many projects in various states means that something is always getting started, something is always being finished, and something always needs some work. I never run out of projects to work on. Oh, I’ve emptied the writing to do list categories. I’ve only had a few projects going at once. But I’ve never looked at my whole writing to do list and seen it blank.

I never want to.

There’s a comfort in knowing that I always have some writing project to work on. I get bored very quickly when I’m not writing. I don’t know what to do with my hands! Even when I’m taking a break because I really want a break, I NEED a break, I’m sick of writing…I’d still rather be writing.

This horrifying to do list with all of its categories and all of its projects means I always will be.

April Writing Projects

Since the only writing projects I really needed to do last month was finishing the first drafts of Come to the Rocks and “August 8, 2015” (it turned out to be a short story!), I ended up with the last two weeks of March free. I ended up spending that time doing a little spruce up on the sidebar of the blog, making a few minor tweaks to The Storytime Jukebox (it is what it is, man), revising a short story called “Notorious” that will hopefully end up in the Jukebox, and writing ten flash fiction stories for a potential project that may or may not happen.

I’m annoying like that.

April will be the month of revision! I’ll revise “Grandma’s Funeral”, “A Girl’s Best Friend”, “Suicide Paris Green”, and “August 8, 2015”. I’ll also try to revise/polish “Notorious”, which will end up in the Jukebox, if all goes well.

And then there’s the matter of revising all of that the flash fiction for the potential project.

Yes, I’m going to try to revise fifteen stories all told next month. I don’t think I’m going to even come close to that, but if I can get a good chunk of them done, then I’m sitting pretty.

In a metaphorical sense, of course.

The next episode of Murderville: The Last Joke goes live on the 11th. $1 lets you read; $2 lets you read AND you get bonus content, like the special little ditty that will be dropping for the $2 patrons this month. Don’t miss out! Read the teasers for episodes one, two, and three, and then haul a little booty over to Patreon so you can read the whole thing!

March Writing Projects

green flowerConsidering the loss of my only day job, my plans for March haven’t really changed that much. Probably because I didn’t have any real solid plans to begin with.

Last month, I finished my latest round of revisions on (Vampires) Made in America, wrote the first drafts of two short stories, “Grandma’s Funeral” and “A Girl’s Best Friend”, and formatted Murderville: The Last Joke into an eBook novella. I also ended up writing the first draft of a short story called “Suicide Paris Green” (I told you I’d do something with that eventually) and published The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys as a stand alone novella eBook. And finally, I began writing the first draft of a story called Come to the Rocks, a story I thought would be about 4,000 words, but is now over 10,000 and headed straight for novella territory.

February was surprisingly productive.

This month I plan to finish writing the first draft of Come to the Rocks and start the first draft of another story that I really don’t know if it will be a short story or a novella. I love those kinds of surprises.

I’m also going to work on the Storytime Jukebox, try to make it a little more user friendly. I’d like it to be more popular, for obvious reasons, but I realize in order for that to happen, it has to be better.

Of course, anything I can do to boost my writing career will be happening this month in earnest. The ball, as they say, will start rolling.

The next episode of The Last Joke comes out on the 7th. Don’t miss out! Read teasers for episodes one and two and then become a patron.

Writing Without a Day Job: The Adventure Begins

coinsChild learnin’ has come to an end for me.

This was not entirely unexpected (no need to go into details), though the timing was sooner than I anticipated.

What matters is that I am without a day job of some kind for the first time in six years.  I view this as both a blessing and a challenge. The challenge, obviously, is to pay my bills while also finding a new day job to help supplement my income, especially since I still haven’t replaced the floorset side hustle yet.

The blessing, though, comes in the form of opportunity. When I lost my floorset job, I chose to see it as a push from the Universe to really focus and promote my writing career. I’ve taken tentative steps in doing that. It’s still not something I’m entirely comfortable with. Without any day job, I have the opportunity to really push myself, to make writing my sole focus day job, at least for a little while.

I already had some projects in the works that were in this spirit. They’re going to have priority in the next couple of weeks, that’s for sure. Selling my books, getting patrons for Murderville, making the Storytime Jukebox better, all of that is going to be key. It’s the side of the business that I admit to not working hard enough on because I don’t want to be annoying. I don’t want to be a walking commercial, a constant promotion that ends up being tuned out. But considering how very little I do of it right now, I think a moderate increase wouldn’t be too over the top.

Also, I can no longer use the excuse of not having the time/energy to promote myself. Got plenty of it in the immediate future! No reason not to use some of that free time/free energy to cultivate and utilize some new promotional skills.

The point is that as optimistic as I am, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to survive without a steady day job of some kind. Most writers can’t. However, while I am looking for that new day job, I can take the time to elevate my writing career to a new level. That’s something long overdue.

So, here’s to the next adventure.

Endings are new beginnings and all that.

February Writing Projects

roseIt’s a short month, so naturally I’m going to try to accomplish several things.

Though I managed to write a poem a day last month, I need to finish the revision of (Vampires) Made in America. I probably would have finished it last month, but I was in Chicago for Cubs Con the weekend of my birthday. Oh, I still worked that weekend, but just not as much as I would have if I was home. Another factor is that I’m adding chapters, so writing the new content is taking a little bit longer.

I’m also going to write the first drafts of two new short stories for the next short story collection, “Grandma’s Funeral” and “A Girl’s Best Friend”. I’m anticipating these to be somewhat difficult because it’ll be such a gear shift and the ideas have been sitting around for a while so I’m worried they’ve lost their freshness. I’m sure I’ll be able to get some kind of a first draft for each of them, but I’m anticipating an extra effort for some unfortunate shit. Thank goodness I like rewriting/revising so much.

I’m also going to be formatting Murderville: The Last Joke into a novella eBook, which will be available to my patrons at the end of the year. I will also be giving my $2 patrons their first freebie this month. So, if you want to get it on that, check out the Murderville page.

Also, the next episode comes out next week. Check out the preview of the first episode and then find out how to read the rest.

January Writing Projects

Snowflower2016 has been put to bed (finally and thankfully) and 2017 has begun. I have a general schedule of what I want/need to get done this year in terms of writing. As of right now, I have a lot of free months, but that is just an illusion. Those blank spaces will fill up quickly as I get this ball rolling.

And of course, this ball starts its rolling in January.

My plan this month is to revise (Vampires) Made in America. This is part of my ultimate 2017 goal of getting this novel to the point of ultimate doneness. I’ve got three of these Outskirts novels just sitting there like lumps. Maybe if I do one, then the other two will follow. It’s a thought.

I’m also going to write a poem a day. I know it’s not National Poetry Month and I know that I ended up a big loser in the poetry contest I entered (I guess my Honors English teacher was right about capitalizing that last line after all), but I still have it in my head that poetry is something I can and should do, even if just for myself. Ideally, I’d like to put it to good use (by that I mean publish it in some form), but I feel that just to play with words in that medium will be largely beneficial overall.

As a side project this month, I’m finishing up a script outline that I started in December. Again, it’s an exercise in a different medium, outlining and writing scripts, but the ideas translate well to novels/novellas. So I count it as time well spent even if the movie would never be made and the script itself never even shopped.

And, of course, Murderville: The Last Joke starts next week, so don’t forget to get in on that.

I think this will be a good way for me to kick off 2017.

December Writing Projects

Milwaukee Christmas treeShit kinda got wacky last month, I will not deny. Cubs World Series parade, the election, the world on fire, NaNoWriMo. Just unforeseen craziness. And so outside of NaNo, my writing really didn’t get a whole lot of attention. I was going to try write, revise, and submit a short-short to a contest, but that didn’t happen. I got it started and it ended up being abandoned in the chaos. The essays I’ve been writing for practice met the same fate. Only NaNo and a rough revision on my Patreon serial idea happened.

And now it’s December and the holiday season is upon us and if this isn’t my well-documented least favorite time of year. I automatically call a mulligan every December because it takes so much of my energy to find and maintain any little dribble of holiday spirit.

But I still got shit to do.

The Patreon serial project is going to be my main focus this month. I’m getting a beta read on it right now, I’ll do another revision on it, and then go from there. The goal is to have this little thing going starting in January.

Which means I will also be pimping this thing. If this sort of self-promotion annoys you, let me remind you that I don’t work one of my jobs for like a month because of Christmas/New Year’s. I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Any little bit of coin I can scrape together helps to ease that pain.

Speaking of, you may or may not (probably not) have noticed an update to the Storytime Jukebox. You can now read the short stories on the blog. You drop in your coins like usual (via PayPal) and I’ll send you a password to use on the story link. Nifty, yes? Sure. The novellas are still only available on Googledocs, though. Or you can buy the short story collections they’re in. That’s good, too.

Though Patreon will definitely be my main gig this month, if I have any spare brain power, it’s going to be spent organizing my plan for next year.

Because I’m going to need some kind of plan for 2017.

November Writing Projects aka NaNoWriMo

nanowrimoIt’s that time of year again. Oh yes. Time to write 50,000 words (okay, 60,000 for me) in thirty days.

I finally figured out that I should just write another Outskirts novel. This one will feature truther (not THAT kind of truther) Maisie Day, conjurer LittleJessie Witt, and famed hunter Sister Mary Valle. The working title is To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, which isn’t great, but not great titles are my thing. I’m not married to it by any means, so I can easily change it if I ever revise it.

Naturally, I say “if” because (Vampires) Made in America and The End of the (Werewolf) Curse still sit waiting. I’ll get around to them one day, I’m sure.

I’ve only outlined the first ten chapters of To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, the idea being that for every chapter I write, I’ll outline the next. You know. Write chapter one and then outline chapter eleven. I don’t want to get too far ahead with this story because I only have a vague idea of what I’m doing with it.

Reassuring, no?

This could be a potential disaster, but I’m all in as always, baby.

Though my main focus will be on NaNo as my Novembers are usually spent (I think this is number 13 maybe), I did finish the first “season” of my Patreon serial idea. I’m going to attempt to revise at least the first episode or two during the month. Fingers-crossed that it’ll be something worth trying come the new year. As usual, I was feeling way too ambitious to think I’d have it ready to go before then.

I’ve also been writing essays on the side for the last month or two. Just another practice thing. A page a day of learning is good for my brain, I think.

Let’s hope I have some brain left after this month.

October Writing Projects

pumpkinsLet me be straight about something. I have been in a writing fog for the last several months. It’s one of those things in which my head is crammed with ideas, but none of them have any immediate use. I want to execute them all, but none of them really further any of my immediate goals. And that’s been kind of frustrating for me because, obviously, it’s the immediate goals I need to be focusing on.

I have to produce dammit!

My business mind has a tendency to clash with my artist’s heart and it does my hellscape mind no favors.

So, in other words, I haven’t been making a lot in the way of tangible progress on certain things lately.

I have done some things, though.

I finished the first draft of another script called The Hitman’s List. I was emboldened by Open Christmas Eve receiving an honorable mention in the contest I entered it into to finish this one because it was my second choice for an entry. I’m pretty pleased with it, though I have no idea what I’ll do with it.

The victory also encouraged me to enter a couple of poems into a poetry contest. I actually got second place in a state contest back when I was in high school. It was an assignment/entry. I’m still bitter my teacher made me change the last line of that poem, even though I can’t remember what it was about (I can’t remember the theme of the contest). She made me all-caps the last line because she decided I didn’t have enough poetic devices in it. I don’t know if that change won me second place or lost me first. Now I’ll know if I win, it’s all me, baby.

The serial idea for Patreon plods on. I’ve got the first draft of the first two “episodes” done and I’m well on my way to completing the first draft of the third. It’s moving along a lot more slowly than I thought, but I think I might be comfortable enough to have something going by November maybe. Of course, I might be overestimating myself once again. I have a great talent for doing that when it comes to time. The planning fallacy. I has it.

Looming around the corner is NaNoWriMo. I should be planning what I’m doing for it. And I will.

Just as soon as I figure out what that is.

Oh, the scares October has for me.

September Writing Projects

Yellow flowersI have a Patreon. I can’t say that I’ve made much use of it because I felt weird and undeserving to have people give me money like that. But with the success of the Storytime Jukebox, I decided that if I have it, then I really should put it to better use.

So, I’m going to spend the month working on a project just for Patreon. I’m taking an old idea for a TV show (I was going to use it to practice script writing, outlined it, and then never went back to it) and turning it into a serial of sorts. Each story, which ideally will be posted once a month, will be one “episode”.  I’m going to work on the first few stories this month and see where it gets me. If everything goes well and it looks like it’s going to come together well, then I’ll redo my Patreon around it and get it all going.

If not, no real loss. I’ll still have the Patreon and I’ll have some stories written that I could use for something else. Remember, I never throw anything away. Hoarding dead stories and marginal ideas has proven quite useful to me.

Speaking of stories, I’ve been working on a trilogy of short stories. I came across a call for submissions for a series of connected anthologies. Though the deadline for the first one has passed and I’m not sure if I’m going to submit for the other two, I at least seized upon an idea that I’ve had for a while, and with a little bit of direction from the submission requirements, got something going.  Again, it’s one of those things that I don’t know what’s going to come of it, but I’m enjoying it and in the end, at some point, it’ll be useful.

I’ve got a bunch of old stuff on the To Do List of Doom, but this month, I’m going with this new flow.