Saturday, June 7, 2014

Managing your WIPs

Yeah, I know I haven't posted for two months, but I'm back now. I have a schedule to post once a week and I intend to stick to it.

If you're like me (and I believe most authors are), you have a massive backlog of WIPs and ideas for stories that you want to finish one day. I have nine WIPs and 23 ideas (according to how they're sorted in my file).

That's a lot of writing and you'd have to write at a serious pace to complete these 32 project, which is likely to continue to grow faster than you can write them. What you need to do, is come to terms with the fact that you are highly unlikely to ever write everything you want to in your lifetime.

But that's okay, not every idea you have is gold and it doesn't need to be written. The key is to recognize that before you invest time into a writing project.

1. Learn the difference between an idea and a concept
Ideas are the things that pop into your head, "An apocalyptic time!" "A utopian society!"

Go ahead and write those stories. You'll be stuck pretty soon, because there isn't very much at all to these ideas. You can expand these to concepts by taking a while to think about them, do some outlining, so later you can write your concept out like this.

"In a world devastated by an apocalypse, people go to terrible length to rebuild society as a utopia."

Concepts are more concrete, they give you a more descriptive and less general idea of what your story is supposed to be about.

So, I was planning on writing a list but it turns out that was all I had for it. Other telltale signs that your WIP might not be good enough are:

- Not enough subplots.
- Not enough conflict.
- Sagging middle (i.e. there's a beginning and end, but not much/anything happens in between)
- The plot is going all over the place.
- There's no plot at all

If your WIPs don't seem good enough, you can either improve it or scrap it. Life is too short to be writing stories that aren't good enough.

Organizing your WIPs
As I said before, I have two folders, one for ideas and one for WIPs. Granted, the WIPs are not all being currently worked on, why some of them are even in the WIP folder is beyond me, but I digress. The point is, I have many series that I am trying to write at once and that can get... hard.

I had tried focusing on one story at a time and this is usually a good idea, giving all your attention to one WIP. But there are times and stages in writing when it can get to be very taxing and feels like it is impossible to write.

This is the time when it's good to have another WIP to work on. However, jumping from one WIP to another is going to basically guarantee that nothing gets done. So what I did was gather 5 WIPs (and this blog) and put them into a daily organizer.

From Monday-Saturday I work on two of these WIP and most of them have clearly defined goals as to what constitutes completion, the ones that don't are undefinable. But it's a good idea to have definable goals so that you know what you're supposed to do and are capable of doing that day.

On Sunday I do anything I want to, which includes not writing at all. Of course, staying on schedule is not as important as getting your writing projects done, but if you find that you're never going on schedule than this method probably isn't for you.

One last thing before I go. Deadlines. Having deadlines shows you how much you need to do per day to hit your target, finding out that you need to write 1 strip a day is a lot less intimidating than having to write 111 strips.

It also gives you some accountability, being held accountable is important, otherwise this is not a business but a hobby.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to comment below or email me at

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