Clearing The Decks!

August has been an interesting month for my writing.


I finished and submitted three short stories, which felt really good and also cleared my writing to-do list of everything except the novel.


Also, after planning to complete the next round of edits on the novel by the end of August, and realising very quickly that this wasn’t going to happen, I also came up with answers to most of the remaining plot problems, thus enabling me to reorganise my notes multiple times.


So, going into September, I ought to have a clear run at the novel, as well as a clear path to get the edits done this month instead.


But, I just did my planning for September in my writing diary and – guess what? There are two writing competitions I want to enter in September, and four more submission opportunities in October that I’d like to write something for, and which will likely require some prep work in September.


And I’m also still on the editing team for an anthology that needs all its submissions finalised in September. Plus, we’re still recording the podcast monthly, so that’ll always be on the schedule in one form or another!


So, it seems I’m never going to have a totally clear run at the novel. And I think perhaps that thinking I need one is incorrect. I always like having several projects on the go, and being able to switch between them. The idea of only working on the novel for a whole month is absolutely horrifying.


But, I also feel as if I haven’t really been getting on with the novel lately.


My August plan of always doing the novel first, every time I sat down to do any writing, worked to a certain extent. I did do some very useful work on it. And keeping it in my mind, and at least actively thinking about it several times a week, is probably what enabled the subconscious crew to come up with all the amazing solutions they presented me with in the last week.


So, in the grand scheme of things, I am making progress on the novel, and have been doing so regularly since the start of July. But, my original plan was to be in a position to submit it to my publisher today – and that’s really not happening. Even if I start really pushing myself and get all the current round of edits done by the end of September, I’ll need at least another month to do a read-through, find and fix the inconsistencies, and do a final edit.


Maybe I can submit in November then? Maybe.


With projects that have no external deadline, it’s very easy to let them slip. But, if I’m making steady progress and I know where I’m going with it now, does the timeline really matter? Probably not, but I do want to keep giving myself deadlines, just to make sure it doesn’t slip off my writing schedule altogether.


But it’s important to accept that there are always going to be other projects that crop up to get in the way. And that’s a good thing. I like writing short stories. I like submitting to anthologies and competitions. And I honestly don’t think I’d be working on the novel more if I didn’t have those other projects on my list. In fact, I think I’d probably be working on it less.


So, I welcome the arrival of the next edition of Writing Magazine (which should be turning up in the next week) because it will likely have some new and exciting submission opportunities for me to add to my list. But I’ll keep putting the novel at the top of the schedule for every writing session, just to make sure I keep chipping away at it.


The decks will never be clear. And that’s okay. Because what on earth would I do with my time if there was nothing on the to-do list?


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