Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Pipeline = Panic Reducer?

So, it's the tail end of summer (*HUGE SIGH*) and after an extremely busy writing-and-trying-to-find-an-agent summer, with hardly a "day off," I should allow myself some rest. Right?

Well, what's funny is that I'm now so "in the mode" of writing/editing that my fingers/brain need something to do. Even during these lovely days off. Thankfully, I've always got something in the pipeline: brainstorming ideas for future books, a past novel that needs editing, a new book I've already started but had to postpone for rewrites on another book. Eenie meenie...

It wasn't always this way with me. There was a time I worked strictly one book at a time, or one article at a time. And when I was finished, I was finished. Nothing in the pipeline. And so, a slight panic would always set in. What next??

It feels wonderful now, always to have something in that pipeline to fall back on. I know that many of you are like that, too - always having something going, always chipping away at a novel or story or idea, some at the same time. I guess it took me awhile to learn that that was the best/easiest way, that it reduces the "panic" that comes after ending a project.

Of course, there's also a danger in having too many projects in the pipeline - to the point that none of them ever quite gets finished. That's probably the #1 concern that my Creative Writing students express to me each semester. They'll tell me: "I've got all these great ideas, all these stories started - but I just can't seem to finish ANY of them!" That's a different type of panic.

My advice to them is always to choose ONE project, ignoring the others completely, and finish it. See it through. No matter what. Even if they think the end result is terrible. Because they can always go back and edit things later. And - once they feel that sense of accomplishment, that success at seeing something through to the very end, it gets easier the next time. Gives them a boost of confidence and reduces the panic. And that's always a good thing...


  1. I have a different type of panic right now - I was so excited about the crime novel I was writing. Then I finished it...and I'm not sure about the ending. It wasn't planned, but it's right for the characters. And now, I've set it aside for awhile and need to begin edits, and I just can't get into it.

  2. I've been where you are - not feeling very motivated about something, but still wanting to work on it. For me, it's sometimes just a day-to-day mood. One day I'll feel like looking at it, but others, I won't. Probably after a few days, you'll get back into it. That's what happens to me. I just take a nice break, let the material rest, and let my mind rest, and then it's easier. And, sometimes when I really don't feel like it, I just make a promise to myself that I'll only READ. I won't try to edit - I'll just do a casual reading of what I've written, from the start. Usually, I end up getting back into the book without even realizing it.

    Sounds like your ending is the "right" one - sometimes when it's not planned, it's an even better ending! Especially if it's right for the characters. Good luck with it!

  3. I fall into the category of 'many ideas' but not getting going on any of them. Ideas always come to me...I have lists and folders and ideas galore. I think what you said about focusing on just ONE idea at a time is the best plan. Work on it, finish it, and send it out. THEN, get going on next idea.