A Glutton for New Projects

10 Nov
(original image: wikipedia commons)

(original image: wikipedia commons)


Who has two thumbs and likes tackling new projects? This flaky procrastinator right here. Ha! It is the bane of every writer, isn’t it? We slave away and grind and burn the midnight oil, but our biggest enemy is always going to be ourselves. Unless, ya know, you are lucky enough to actually have a nemesis or something. Most of us aren’t that cool though. One of the most aggravating distractions that I deal with is the New Project problem. It’s like some kind of ‘seven week itch’ or something.

“Hey Brain, you know what would really derail my progress on this project?”
“Um, a brand new, totally different project?”
“YES! And what a coincidence…”

Now, I keep a ‘master list’ of story ideas, and I make lots of notes on things that inspire me. It’s a good way to mitigate the overwhelming desire to ditch this current piece of work for some new, sexy project that isn’t all up in my business. It’s saved me from quite a bit of heartache, but it’s not perfect. What if what I’m working on really isn’t very good? And what if this new thing really is perfect for me? Maybe it is super enticing for a reason? There isn’t any way to know for sure, unless I dive in and start writing. Right? Well, kind of…

Confession: I am a hedonist. I love everything that is good and delicious and fun – in heaping amounts. The reason I’m not dead of some weird, food-related overdose yet is that I am not a slave to my impulses. Really. Well, maybe a little. See, the point is that I can make a distinction between what I really, really want and what I need. The same has to be true for my work. Writing new projects is just like taking a bite out of a cookie, or digging into a chocolate mousse. That first tiny taste is divine, isn’t it? But I am well aware that if I indulge my every whim, I will get nowhere at all. It feels so damn grown up to say it, but I’ll do it anyway: Discipline. It is a skill, and I’m working on it. And when I flex my meager willpower muscles and succeed over my flighty urges, it feels like a win. I feel like a better writer.


After ten thousand words into my newest novel, I totally got distracted by a shiny, new project. And for very good reasons, I am not concerned. I know that in the face of all of what I just wrote it might seem absurd – or worse, hypocritical – but I’m on to something here. I just got done with a hefty novel a month or so ago. It’s a damn good thing to jump back into the saddle, but word counts and artificial targets aren’t the end-all, be-all of being a productive writer. Not only do I need to keep my eyes on what inspires and engages my creativity, I need to keep my mind on my business.

I started a new, side project on a theme. As eye-rolling and cliché as it might be, I planned out a multi-part short story series on the Seven Deadly Sins. Sure, it’s been done – by better, smarter, and prettier people than me – but I immediately figured out my own path. It’s engaging to me, of course, but I also think I can sell it. And for all the weird, awkward, and disturbing things I’ve done in the name of writing, I have done very little to push myself down the Big Plan. The Big Plan is, of course, getting published, getting paid, getting rich and famous. All that good stuff.

I’m going to follow my instincts. Even if my instincts are telling me to dig in, have another serving of New Project. Maybe I need to take advantage of my enthusiasm while it’s there. After all, I’ve had plenty of “famine” – why not enjoy some “feast” for a change?



One Response to “A Glutton for New Projects”

  1. Gwendolyn Nehs November 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Wonderful Patrick! I am excited about your new Seven Deadly Sins project.

    PS Discipline. Kind of makes you feel like a grown-up, you know? I’ve been flirting with it, too.

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