Works in Progress

I have a list of dozens of writing projects.

I mean – DOZENS especially when I add in article writing to the mix.

Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself. Why do I put so many projects in the fire? Why must I have so many?

For me, the answer comes down to one thing: attention.

I don’t think I have any “real” attention issues but I bore quickly if all I was doing was one thing all the time. Believe me, over the years I have tried that approach and always wonder why I can’t seem to stay focused long enough without getting restless.

Then I discovered that I need to focus on more than one project at a time. Of course, I could easily achieve this with say, four projects. In my case I have over 20 projects pending. That being said, those twenty projects are all in various stages of completion. The cookbooks I have been slowly gathering and writing recipes and conducting research. A few of the fiction projects only have one scrap of an idea in them and still needs a full outline, etc. And then there are projects that are closer to completion like the “Chavez Ravine” novel.

As of today I have 9 chapters left to rewrite in “Chavez Ravine”. Meanwhile, I have a beta reader working the front chapters. So, I am rewriting the last chapters and also sending my BR the first chapters, which means I am looking those over too and editing before I send them to her. I am also beginning to write up book proposals for the project. This novel will be the first one I have moved out of “first draft” mode! I have another completed first draft waiting in the wings…which I’m excited to delve into and rewrite.

I am beginning to break up my days like this:

In the morning before I take my daughter to school I spend a few minutes reading some notes, checking out online freelance opportunities, making coffee, working out.

Once I take her to school I set the timer for 60 minutes and write and send out queries, pitches, proposals, and apply to whatever freelance job I can. (I also keep a dry erase board in front of me with a running tab of potential income, which keeps me motivated in a simple little way.)

Then, I dig out a chapter of my novel and set about rewriting. Sometimes I can complete the chapter in one morning, other times it can take me a few days to a week or more. I make check marks on the parts I need to research later.

By now it is late morning and I squeeze in some time to do some research reading, edit, critique – and update my blog. Okay, I check social media too, dammit…but only when I am eating lunch.

After lunch I try and go back over the novel chapter and research the parts I left blank and fill in the details. I try and set the timer again and pick up another project and try and do at least one task a day on a new project. Sometimes, I will spend a few minutes filing or sending out an email, or making a call or two. And depending on the time (everyone starts getting home from school/work around 3pm which is when I typically stop unless I am on a roll I will continue working for another hour or two) I will try and send out another query or pitch.

On my dry erase board I keep track of how many queries are in the pipeline, how many tasks I have completed overall, the number of words written today, and an ongoing total number of words written – a large several hundred thousand word count that keeps me inspired to keep going.

Today, I managed to send one pitch, start rewriting chapter 35 and chapter 5 (so I can send it off to my BR), write and send two book proposals for my children’s book, read a pile of research, critique a chapter sent to me, and work on a local pitch for a series of articles – and do some dreaded filing at the end of my work day.

In between the freelance writing work I am researching Gettysburg and the Civil War for a historian study – along with culinary history work too.


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