Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Keeping Your Priorities Straight

Anyone that's seen the Harry Potter movies (or at least the first one) will remember Ron's infamous line, "She needs to sort out her priorities."  It's always been a favorite of mine.  And recently, I've taken it to heart.

For the past few months, my focus has been slowly placed on the Bloody Lovely series: figuring out my characters' histories, working with my co-author to get a good plot going, trying to work out all the kinks.  I'd venture to say that it has been my soul focus for nearly a year now.  But, as of late, there has been little process made on the books, between mine and LJ's various activities, both school-related and not.  Still, I stuck to the series for a long time, and when it became clear that now wasn't the time to get progress done as far as actually writing the book is concerned, I turned to developing my own characters.  Recently, though, I've changed my mind about what my priorities should be.

Now, i don't want to give anyone the wrong idea: I am still determined to finish Bloody Lovely with LJ at some point and I in no way think that you should quit on a project that you truly love, no matter what.  You should always work to find a way.  However, circumstances being what they are, I think that it's time that I move on to a project that, at this time, is more promising for me.

To help you determine whether or not your priorities are straight, I've come up with a little questionnaire:

[1] Is this story one I intend to finish?
Another way to phrase this question is: "Are you serious about this story?"  Is it something that you've been working on and that you have a plan for, or is it something that you're just writing as a fun side-project.  Side-projects should never take precedence over projects that you've been working hard on.

[2] Are there any factors preventing you from writing the book?
If there are factors in your life - such as work, school, family problems, etc. - preventing you from writing the book, then it's very possible that it's time to give the story a break.  This doesn't mean that you can't come back to it later or that you don't like it.  It just means that, right now, there are other things that you need to take care of.

[3] Is this a story that you enjoy?
One of the most said (and truest) bits of advice that someone might hear about writing is to write for yourself, not for someone else.  So if you have a project going that you adore and another going that you think will be popular among other people, your priority should be the one that you love.  Your writing will never be as good in a book that you're not putting your heart into.

[4] Do you know what you're doing?
Do you have a plan?  Do you know how you're going to next part of the story?  Or are you drawing up a blank.  In other words: do you have writer's block (a phrase that my friend Joe does not like at all; sorry Joe haha)?  If you're having problems writing your project, the best thing that you can do (in my personal opinion) is to step away from it for a while.  I've said it again and again: if you really can't get yourself to write, then you certainly shouldn't force yourself to do it.  Move to another story or just stop writing for a while until you're ready to give a story another try.

Here's how my questionnaire went:

Is this a story you intend to finish?  Most definitely.
Are there any factors preventing you from writing the book?  Many, both for myself, and for my co-author.
Is it a story that you enjoy?  Enjoy is too small a word.
Do you know what you're doing?  Yes and no.  I know all of the general plot for the first four books; but there are no specifics laid out, and when you're co-writing something, you want to make sure that it's clear what needs to be included before you write it.

So I've got two questions answered telling me that I should take a break from my current project and move on to something else, and that's what I intend to do.  Keep in mind, though, that, for me, things are a little different.  I am, in fact, writing the series with another person, so it's not just my life that's affecting whether or not this series should be my priority at the moment.  For yourself, you may have to evaluate things a little more.  For example: 

Is the problem that I'm saying is preventing me from writing really what's keeping me from doing it?  Or am I using that as an excuse?  Is it that you can't write because you're too upset, or that you don't want to try writing and you're using your emotions as your personal rationale?  You have to be as unbiased as possible when you're figuring this out for yourself.  Try not to let yourself make up excuses for not doing something.  (Then again, if you're making up excuses not to do it, that's a pretty good reason - where creative writing is concerned - why you shouldn't do it, in and of itself.)

So there's my little spew on getting your priorities straight.

Now that I'm working on something else, I may or may not have something for you all to look at in the future. We'll see.  Right now, I'm working on getting my characters straight.  The story I'm currently working on is one based off of a clip that I wrote AGES ago, back when I was still in love with vampires - yes, I'm writing a story about vampires.  So I'm going to try to blend the old clip (which I'm really quite fond of) with my new ideas for the story.

Thank you to everyone that stuck out this post, and happy writing to you all!

-Maddi J.

1 comment:

  1. I love that the post started off with a quote from my favorite series. Ron is pretty smart! I think the questions you created to determine your priorities right now are great. Deciding what to do is often a big relief. Usually a break can do a world of good. Wishing you the best of luck!