Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: How Much Time Do We Commit To A Project Before Accepting It's Not Working?

You may recall that I blew the better part of a month on a piece of flash fiction I still haven't finished. I have written flash fiction before, and I know it took me a while to write it. But my recollection is that I worked on it now and then over a long period of time while working on other things. It didn't keep me from other projects the way last month's short story did.

Several years ago I heard a couple of writers leading a workshop on nonfiction say that they determine how much time they'll commit to getting a new project started before they get going. I e-mailed them to ask if they'd like to elaborate on that. They didn't. This past week, I threw a question out on this subject at Facebook. Again, no one wanted to discuss how they decide to let a new project go or at least put it aside on simmer.

I would like a formula, an equation that I can plug numbers into. Something very linear. (I did a little research on linear and nonlinear systems for that 1,000 word project.) 

The amount of time I put into this story, which I can't even name because it doesn't have one yet, made me feel I needed to put more time in so I wouldn't have wasted all the time I'd already used up. Just a little bit more, then I'll get my payoff. Hmm. Does that sound like gambling? In the meantime, I was loosing a big chunk of the time I'd wanted to use on the project I'd made progress on during May. I'll be on vacation a large part of September, so that stinks. I also was drifting away from the new writing process I was working on in May. This was all for a 1,000 word story that I had no market lined up for. If I had been able to publish it, it might have ended up being with a publication that doesn't pay.

Now my work provides a very small portion of our family's support. But there are writers out there who have to generate income. They can't use their time like I used mine last month.

I had a flashfic obsession, and others could tell. My husband used the word in relation to my writing behavior and constant discussion of the story. Now that it's over, I feel confident that in some point in the future, I'll finish that piece and be able to submit it. But I also feel I should have been able to get to that point with a normal work method.

Knowing when to lay off may be a matter of knowing. Without the knowing, I'd like something else to push the Put It Away Button.


tanita✿davis said...

Oh, man, this is the ETERNAL question: when do you know when to quit? Know when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em?

It is The Knowing, a kind of completely unreliable, non-linear sense of yourself that says, "This sucks, and will not get any better." But, I guess you have to be a knowledgeable enough writer to know that about yourself... when you come up with a formula, let us know.

Gail Gauthier said...

Doesn't it seem to you as if there ought to be a formula out in the world already? Someone is hiding it?