The Tyranny of the Incomplete

I’ve hit an interesting place in my writing life over the past couple of months. For the first time since I began writing “seriously,” I have a backlog of partially-finished stories. My pattern up to this point has been to work on one story at a time, finish it, submit it for publication, then move on to the next story. That’s worked out pretty well so far.

Now, I find myself with six stories in various stages of completion–two flash, two short stories, and two novels. Being a person who craves closure, this is an uncomfortable situation. Not as bad as writer’s block, but not what I’d call my “happy place.”

So, what should I do about it?

What I’m doing at the moment is a sort of undisciplined parallel process, where I’m working on whichever story I feel inspired to tackle at the moment, but all projects are simultaneously on the front burner.

Alternative approaches might include:

1. Make my current process more disciplined by scheduling each project on a daily/weekly basis so they all get a set amount of work, in rotation.

2. Put one or more of the unfinished projects on the back burner, leaving the ones I think are more important or have a better chance of being completed soon in the rotation, then moving the back burner projects to the front as others are finished.

3. Prioritize the uncompleted projects and revert to my old process of working one project exclusively until it’s finished, then move on to the next until I’ve exhausted my backlog.

Prioritization isn’t that simple, either. The shorter projects can be pushed out quickly and keep fresh writing from me in the public eye. The novel-sized projects have a greater potential return in both money and attention, but they are all-consuming. If I’m working on a novel, I’m not writing anything else.

I’ll probably be pondering this issue for a while. If anybody has a different idea or an approach that works for them, I’d be glad to hear it.

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2 thoughts on “The Tyranny of the Incomplete

    1. Heh, I didn’t even address my own “scattered projects,” a sad orphanage full of stories half-baked and ill-conceived, living the hard-knock life, dreaming of a happier tomorrow…

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