Starting a writing project is like opening a new world. The story-line is a life with a blank slate, the characters like meeting new people, and every word is a new adventure. It’s thrilling and terrifying.
Though excited to start a project, I seem to be cursed with a horrific case of procrastination. Many of my personal projects, including my stories, fall to the side in favor of literally anything else. My previous retail job asks me to come back to help out? No problem. Friends suddenly want to hang out all weekend? Sounds great! New show just came on Netflix? Better watch all of it to stay on top of things!
Most never get picked back up again. Journals, blogs, and especially long-form writing projects seem to get hung up in the stir of daily life. I could blame being busy, but that would be giving myself too much slack. You can always sort out what’s most important to you by what you make time for.
The real issue is my lack of a deadline.
My current novel has been a “work-in-progress” since I started it for National Novel Writing Month in 2013. I dropped it, unfinished, until a year later. I have been re-writing and editing ever since. Years working on the same novel feels suffocating when you have no deadline to work toward and no real direction for it.
This past year I made a goal for myself to finish my “work-in-progress.” It wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution, because I don’t think change has to be dictated by the flipping of a calendar. But, I decided I want this story to be through enough drafts so that when somebody asks “Hey, how’s your novel going?” I can look them in the eye with a smile and say “I just finished it. Now, I’m just polishing it up.”
(Also, I just desperately want to work on something else).
My previous draft had roughly 30 chapters in it. I plan to change the majority of the second half of the book, but I’m hoping to still keep it at 30 if possible. So far, I’m at 8 chapters of my third draft. (It would technically be a fourth draft but I’m not going to count the jagged-edged tragedy that was my first, unfinished draft).
My deadline for myself is November. I want to be able to start a new project in November with a clear conscience knowing I didn’t leave unfinished drafts on the back burner.