The Write Side of Life: Sorting Out Priorities

Welcome to my occasional feature, The Write Side of Life. From time to time, I’ll be using this column to talk about my writing, the progress I’m making with various ‘works in progress‘, lessons I’ve learned and writing tips I’ve picked up along the way that you may find useful for yourself.

For this first instalment I want to talk about priorities. When completing any type of writing, be it a novel, short story or some kind of essay or article, I adamantly believe that you need to sort out what’s most important to your writing. For some people that maybe the story and where it’s going. For others it might be sorting out which character needs most developing. It can vary from writer to writer.

For me, this week anyway, the priority that needed sorting has been which of my works in progress to be concentrating on. I currently have two ongoing projects. One is a novel that I am writing to submit to publishers and agents in the hopes of getting a book deal. The other has been Isis, the ongoing story I have been posting on this very site and then bugging you all about on Twitter and Facebook.

When I started writing Isis, I already had an outline of the story planned out and basic outlines for each chapter as well as detailed plans for each of the point of view characters and how they would fit into the narrative. The idea was to write and post a chapter every two weeks. The idea behind this was to give myself time to write the chapter, proofread it and then step away from it before giving it another couple edits and posting it. It also means that people have time to catch up on previous chapters.

As I am sadly not a full time writer, I do have a day job which takes up the majority of my week and means I only really get evenings and weekends to write. The fortnight gap between chapters not only meant that I could take time on each chapter but that I could also divide my precious writing time between Isis and the aforementioned novel. For the last few weeks this has been my system and it seemed to be working.

This week however, a rather large fly has dropped his arse, well and truly in the ointment. Now this isn’t your regular fly, the oily black, filth ridden, pox spreading kind that can ruin a jam sandwich in the blink of an eye, it’s actually an excitable bumbly cartoon fly who has arrived with news of a short story competition. The prize is publication in  one of my favourite magazines so I’d be a fool not to enter.

Nevertheless, this competition does put my system on the Fritz. Instead of being able to just split my time in half for each project, I now have to fit in a third and as my writing time is quite limited, it means I have to sort out my priorities.

Now, I know at this point, it probably looks like I’m whining about a first world problem but I assure you, dear reader, I’m not. I’mm not upset or distressed about having another writing project. I love writing that’s the point. I’m genuinely excited about the competition and really want to win. Not only because it’s one of my favourite magazines, but also because it will get my work out to a much larger audience. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

So in light of the above, and with the deadline for the competition looming in April, I have decided to put Isis on hiatus for now. I know that there has only been a prologue and two chapters so far but I really want to concentrate on this competition and write the best entry I can. I also want to make sure that Isis becomes the best it can be so for now the priority will be the competition.

I’d love to know what kind of similar challenges, if any, to those I write about here that you face. So drop me a line in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

‘Til next time…