One of my writer friends asked a question the other day.
"How do you decide what project to work on next?"
It's been, for a while, pretty easy for me. I work on whatever project is due out the door first. I also know what I'm capable of doing, as far as writing goes, and that's where I think is the important work.
Yes, I CAN churn out a 50,000 word crappy novel in a month. But what I don't seem capable of doing is bothering to rewrite the thing. It's so bad I may as well just start over...
What I can do, generally, is write about 500 - 2,500 words in a week, that are GOOD words. Sometimes I feel I should do more, sometimes I feel I should do better, sometimes I feel like I should sit my butt down in the chair and work-work-work.
But I don't.
And so, when I'm planning... I plan for what I know I can and WILL do.
500 - 2,500 words per week.
So, if a call for submissions is due on, let's say February 1st. And they want stories between 2,500 words and 5,000 words... well, typically my stories are about 3,300 words, unless they're longer stories, in which case they run between 8,000 - 11,000... And I assume that while I'll have some good weeks, I'll also have some bad weeks. So, for a short-short, I try to start about four weeks before the story is due. That gives me three weeks to write it, a week to review and fix things (and extra oh shit time). And a longer story - for some reason I find it easier to be productive on longer pieces... I have more 2,500 weeks rather than 500 weeks. I try to start around five to six weeks ahead of time.
But this year, I really want to try to work on some longer pieces. I have a couple of novellas burning around in my brain, and one full-length novel.
So what do I start with?
Is it the characters that yell loudest? Not really. I have some really loud characters that have already had their stories told and they refuse to move the fuck out. (I'm looking at you, Master Hooke.) And sometimes the characters that talk to me least - at first - turn out to be the most interesting...
I put together soundtracks to get me into the mood for writing... and I write up my outlines (sometimes that happens on paper, sometimes that happens almost entirely in my head) and then I work on whatever piece I have the best foothold in. I'm not a pantser. I struggle with the whole NaNoWriMo process because if I just *write* my characters wander off thataway and I have no idea where they're going or what they're going to do when they get there. Which, I know, works really well for some people. I'm more of a "if we're going to my dad's, I know it'll take about four hours to get there, and I'm likely to be hungry, and shouldn't we stop for gas somewhere along the way?"
So, I write whatever I think I can make the most progress in before I'm back at that blank paper going "Oh, fuck me sideways, what now?"
PS - Don't forget to stop by the Smutty Advent Calender. Only a few days left before it's over!