Connected to my previous post about ideas and their relative lack of value, I sometimes find myself with so many projects going at once I’m actually stressed out trying to create them all. This is usually entirely my own fault—I’m pretty busy writing for money, but mainly the problem is that as I sit here I have ideas and it’s so damn easy to hit CTRL-N and just start a new story. And sometimes I worry if I don’t start writing something, the idea will just die in my brain like Saturday Night’s brain cells (cause of death: Awesomeness! And liquor).

So one day I sit down for some personal writing, and I realize I have literally eight stories going at once. A novel, something that might be a novel, novella, short story, or an impenetrable mess of crazy, depending, and other several short stories at various stages of completion. And this is like trying to build eight buildings at once: I spend all day slapping on mortar and laying bricks, and at the end of the day it looks very much like none of my eight projects have advanced much.

The Forest for the Trees

This can be a bit frustrating and anxiety-generating because I start to feel like I’m going to be working on these same eight projects for, literally, the rest of my life. And my life goal is to leave exactly zero unfinished stories behind, even if I have to cure death to accomplish this.

On the other hand, I like having a lot of projects to jump around. When I lose the thread in one, I can jump over to another story that feels more exciting and alive. So on the one hand, I’m stressed and each project moves forward glacially, but on the other hand I’m never bored, and I’m probably always working at peak efficiency, because I’m always working on something I’m excited about and for which I have a way forward.

We all work at our speed, and we deal with inspiration in our own way. Mine, apparently, is to stagger about slapping words here, words there, and then waking up one day to discover I’ve written a novel and four short stories (like my personal life, my professional life is littered with a lot of SCENE MISSING cards). Naturally, I’m going to take this to be proof that my lifestyle of Day Drinking and Unnecessary Capitalization in my writing is a winning one. Huzzah!

One thought on “Mo’ Projects, Mo’ Problems

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for this post. I feel this way all the time – so many unfinished projects. It is anxiety-inducing. I appreciate your sharing, because maybe I don’t have to fix my habit of starting and stopping essays. Maybe that’s how I work. I appreciate your unconventional perspective, self deprecation and bold use of unnecessary capitals.


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