On Starting New Projects

Yikes! 2013 was a difficult year for me.  I had two major family events in my life that consumed most of my brain, and quite a few other unfortunate other goings on that consumed the rest of it.  Result: writing ruts and many false starts.

Things did finally improve, writing-wise, in November and December.   I completed NaNo for the first time. I was amazed at how much I could output when push came to shove.  In December, I also started collaborating on a couple of picture books.  I have no idea what will come of them, but it's been a lot of fun to try something new and completely different.

Recently, Nathan Bransford blogged about the difficulty of starting a new project.

Looking back, here are some things that helped me:

1. Hold off on telling people your ideas.  Okay, this isn't for everybody.  But whenever a person responds to my idea without telling me what sheer genius it is, I inevitably question it.  The problem is compounded by the fact that I rarely have a fully formed, perfect one-sentence pitch from the get-go.  Basically, I have the same issues as this guy.

2. Write the first draft crazy-fast.  Writing fast and setting high word-count goals helps me turn off the inner editor.  Also, if you complete your manuscript in a month, and it sucks...well, you've only lost a month. And, chances are, there will be something you can work with at the end of it.  Hence why NaNo was good to me.

3. Be brave. Write things that are uncomfortable.  Things that you don't want your friends and neighbors and especially your mom to read, but are burning inside of you and you can't keep in.  Also, don't be afraid to write things that you don't know how to write at all--a new genre, a different style, whatever is speaking to you.

4. Push yourself, but take breaks as life demands.  We writers have to be very self-aware about the difference between procrastination and giving ourselves the space we need to be sane.  Be honest with yourself, and keep trying!

Here's to our muses in 2014!