It's time for this month's Indie Life post, a monthly feature run by the awesome writers over at the Indelibles blog. If you're familiar with Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Group, you'll already have an idea of how this will run. Every second Wednesday of the month those taking part will post something related to indie life, such the highs, lows, triumphs, struggles, and milestones of going it alone.
Today I'm talking about the dangers of losing focus by asking the question: How do you maintain focus when balancing multiple writing projects?
As a newly published Indie writer, I'm all to aware that unless by some miracle my short collection suddenly garners the attention and sales of someone like Hugh Howey, I'm not going to give up my day job on its sales. In fact, I probably won't even make the equivalent of two or three days wages in a month. But if I can have multiple books on sale, then maybe combined they will bring home a decent wage. And that means writing more books.
Easy? It should be. I'm a writer. Writing stories is what I do, and it's the most important part. Not the sales. But I'll let you in on a secret - when I first starting submitting short stories for publication, I concentrated on one story at a time. Yes. I worked on a novel from time to time, but I focused my creative energies on completing one project. I selected an anthology. I knew the final submission date. I submitted on time.
Fast-forward a couple of years and I have multiple projects competing for my attention, and because I'm self-publishing, no deadline. Of course I can give myself a deadline but then I can also change it. The result is I'm losing focus. Instead of regularly completing one of these projects, I have lots on the go. Of course that is not always a bad thing - we need variety so as not to stagnate. But we also need to finish stories.
While it is great for any writer to already have an idea of what their next few publications will be, how do they ensure a steady stream of publications without losing their way? How do they maintain focus when balancing so many writing projects? For me the answer is starting a business plan and publicly announcing a publishing schedule.
As much as I hate to think of my writing as a business, my dream is to write full-time. I can only achieve this through consistent sales. If I want consistent sales, I need to giving my readers more reading options on a regular basis. By setting a publishing schedule, and then telling the world, I will be making a commitment. By working out the hard facts of increasing sales through more books for sale I am focusing my attention on ensuring each project is completed. Talking of announcing publishing schedules, here's mine for the next few months:
July 15th - Taking Time (science fiction short story collection).
September 2nd - episode one of a science fiction serial. Then one more every two weeks. Nine episodes in total.
What are your thoughts on maintaining focus? Do you think balancing multiple projects is a good or bad thing? How many becomes to many?