Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Fine Art of Not Overreaching

Writing is hard enough without setting yourself up for failure. One of the smartest things a writer can do is to pick goals and projects that are achievable. One the dumbest things a writer can do is to overreach.

This is a huge problem for me.

When I start brainstorming, it is typically a big storm. One idea leads to another, to another, to another and so on. Then, just when things are saturated, a new idea emerges that is completely unrelated to the rest. I want to write all of these things. Sadly, this is not a realistic goal.

In the past I have tried to work too many projects at once--and failed. I have tried to work projects of epic and grandiose scale--and failed.

Thus from this cornucopia of concepts, I may only choose one. At least I am to be successful. This results in dropping 90% of my brainstorming, and taking 10%, developing it and making it shine. This strategy works well for me, I complete most of what I start. Many other authors have reported similar results. So let me offer you this advice:

Do not overreach.

Be realistic about your productivity, how long a project will take, other things going on in your life, and what you are truly passionate about. With these things in mind, take all those great ideas and whittle them down to one idea, an idea you can bring to life in a reasonable amount of time (1 month for a short story, 1 year for a book).

If you do that, you will finish the project, achieve your goal and go on to a life of bliss, happiness and achievement.

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