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Young Writers Society
Managing a Project
Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:37 am
Managing your Literary Project
Planning a project is a big deal, and like anything it requires time and commitment. It's important to accept that in your dreams you may be a master thief or a dragon tamer or a war hero, but in truth you're still human. You're going to come across obstacles and find things difficult at times, and by taking some time to think about yourself instead of just your characters, you can solve a lot of problems before they arise and leave yourself more room for creativity in the long run. For a moment let's put aside the dreams of fame and fortune, humble down, and think about ourselves as we are now, sitting at a table with a quill at the ready.
Think realistically about how much time you can put in. This isn't just about how much spare time you have when working at your optimum, it's also affected by your ability to concentrate, the amount of chill time you need, and how much effort you can practically put in. Writing is fun, but it's also engaging and takes some hard work at times.
Plan to write- not the same as planning a novel. Make a conscious decision that you're going to write something, and do it. At some point you'll run out of ideas, or change your mind, or feel like throwing in the towel. Making that decision turns the 'can I do it' to 'how can I do it.'
Consider potential obstacles before they happen. This is about knowing yourself and accepting your weaknesses. Some obstacles will be personal, like a lack of self confidence or negative feelings. Others will be practical, like sharing a room with a noisy sibling or having limited internet access. Think ahead to what you may struggle with and then have a back-up plan of how you
carry on despite the problem.
Plan your support system. There is no vanity in blood, sweat and tears. Those who go at it alone usually don't go very far, and even though it might be tempting to keep all your ideas to yourself and never rely on anyone, a support system is the most important thing you'll have in life and in writing. Find someone to answer to, or who you can bounce ideas off. Having people around you who write, or even online, and who will be happy for your little achievements even if they have no idea what's going on, is crucial.
Keep a project diary of where you're up to, everything you've done, what you think about what you've done, how you feel in general. If something is distracting you from work, write it down. Or if you're really proud of an idea. During the good times you'll have somewhere to note your achievement and revel in pride. During the bad times you'll be able to look back and see that you got over one obstacle even though you were feeling pretty crummy, you can get over the next.
Set personal targets as well as physical ones. The more personal it is, the more likely you are to maintain your passion towards it. Make a commitment that for this chapter you're going to write openly about a topic you're sensitive towards, or research a disability you never cared about before, or have one your characters say to someone else something that you wished you had been able to say in the past.
Start early. Deadline is a scary word, so let's use 'target' instead. Set yourself a target and start working on it early. If you decide on a chapter per week then get that chapter done as soon as possible. The closer to the target date you get, the more stressed you will get, and the bigger the task will feel. Starting early also gives you time to play with your ideas and try out new and different things, whilst still accommodating for the things that will, inevitably, crop up to sabotage you.
Once a goal has been reached take some time to celebrate and ruminate on the next task before attempting it. Nobody likes the daily grind, especially when work feels like a series of deadlines.
Allow for bad days, and don't be discouraged. One day you're going to fall out with a friend and all you really want to write is a ransom note for their pet dog. One day you're going to get sick and forget where you left your head, never mind finishing your next target. One day everything is going to go wrong and you'll feel awful about yourself, and missing your target will make you cry, but that's okay. The most important thing is to have a sad day, wallow in a healthy dose of self pity, and try again tomorrow. It happens to the best and the worst of us.
Projects should be interesting and challenges should be fun. If you find that you've taken on a commitment that gets you frustrated and stressed out, don't give up. Instead try altering your habits, reducing the time you spend on it, or incorporating things you enjoy into the process.
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