How many files do you have?
Whatever the reason your projects stockpile, you might find that unclogging your writing life might aid in actually producing something worthwhile. But how do you ignore all the time and effort you put into those ideas . . . all those words?
First, let's stop this craziness. Don't start anything new until you go through those piles of partial pieces. Get your house in order!
SORT - Line up all your unfinished projects. Then confront the list like you would cleaning out your closet, or your garage. You know how you set out three boxes - keep, throw away, donate? Let's do the same thing here.
- KEEP - These are the serious stories you hope will become your trademark material. Your best. Your brightest. They give you chills when you reread them. They are precious.
- THROW AWAY - These are the random ideas you started then couldn't find enough original thought to make them shiny, notable, and memorable. Listen, if you can think of no home for them, and you can't build up enough creativity to make them worthy, delete them. They are baggage. They served their purpose like a hallway in a maze - they took you in a direction just didn't work.
- DONATE- Nope, I'm not saying give your lesser value material away or suggest you write for free. Study these on-the-fence pieces for blog material. If they don't fit a blog either, then put them in the throw away box.
SET GOALS - Set dates and times and word counts. These will be your first order of business each day. Whether it's one hour a day, or 500 words, or a chapter, or pitching a market for your feature, note it on your calendar. When you've accomplished your task, then, and only then, move your attention elsewhere. But you should have a sole, driving force for your writing, with all else taking a back seat.
The Internet is glorious, without a doubt. But it's distracting. We think we have to stay on top of all the blogs, tweets, classes and releases, but we really don't. If we read such material once a week or fifteen minutes a day, we'd be fine. Our writing wouldn't regress. Our odds for publication wouldn't diminish. And we'd get a lot more writing done.
All that old stuff you're saving, however, is baggage. It clogs your mind, because you know it's there, waiting for your return. Delete it. Toss it. Shred it. Just clear your writing closet of all those pieces you know you'll never wear again. It's liberating, as if you've bought yourself freedom to write for real, with sincerity, with direction.
There's nothing much more rewarding to a writer than clear, designated purpose.