May. 7th, 2007

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I've always been a planner, an organizer, an anal type of person. I have this sense that if I can see everything, it means I have it under control. And yet, I've been digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole with my writing until it has threatened to crush every last bit of creativity out of me with the weight.

Yeah, that's a pretty sad statement, but oh so true.

I am the one your mother points to and says, "Do the opposite."

I tend to over commit, set my goals just over the edge of doable, and hold myself accountable for everything I failed to do on top of whatever I have planned for the next period.

Around September of last year, I recognized the sinking ship nature of my workload and did something about it. I came up with a grand, fascinating breakdown of just what was a reasonable workload that included multitasking and steady progress.

Here's the breakdown I came up with for the whole year with the current status in parentheses:

Preparation steps:
Two Novel Submission Packages (one novel submission package complete)
Three Novel read throughs (Two novel read throughs complete)
Outline three novels (1.75 novels outlined)
10 Short Stories (10.75 short stories written)
Two Novels (Two half novels written (one finished from last year))
One Novel after crits (Reviewed crits for two novels)
13 Short Stories (Edited 16 short stories)
Three either first or final draft novels (Edited two novels and started a third)
11 Submission runs (Submitted 37 items so 12 runs)
Five brand new short stories out on their first run (Sent out six stories on their first run (four of which were written this year))
Four full novel crits or novel copyedits (Critted/copyedited five novels)
48 Short story/chapter crits (Completed at least 15 short story/chapter crits)
Preparing for six issues of Vision (Completed two Vision issues)

The ones that are already done are in italics, but even many of the ones not in italics are close to finished. This was my plan for the year. I'm not even half way through the year. Rather than slowing down and relaxing when I finish something ahead of plan, I tend to pile on not one but two more things "because I have some spare time."

So, this is my manifesto. I'm going to slow down. I'm going to focus on one project in any one category at a time, and if I don't finish when I expect to, I'm going to stretch the rest out.

Odds are I'll still manage a good bit, possibly even close to what I was doing anyway. But my stress level will go down and I won't let the stacks of work press on me. They'll just have to wait their turn.

Translated into realistic terms:

My focus for May is Story A Day. Anything else is gravy.

On the novel edits, I will complete the final proofread on Heart of the Crystal first since I've already started to send out agent queries (this is not something I would normally do, but because of the overload, my priorities got tangled). Once Heart is complete (however long or short that takes), I will be doing the global changes on Selkie before sending it out to critters. Then Shadows of the Sun catches center stage. These three could take me to the end of the year, though I hope not, so I am not adding anything else to the queue.

On novel crits, I've got the next two already planned, one is ready for me, one is not. After that, it'll depend when things are ready, but I will not rush through one to take on the next :).

I plan to finish the outline for Seeing Is Believing this month. The writing may end up dragging out until August because summer becomes dicey with the boys out of school.

The short stories and submissions will continue on as they have been, earning and losing focus as they go.

I think that's about it. No matter what, I'll end up ahead of my "annual and reasonable goals." I've already surpassed a good number of them. Since I don't have the ability to rest on my laurels ;), maybe at least I'll manage not to dig myself into a pit while forgetting to shore up the walls as I go.


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Margaret McGaffey Fisk

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