Juggling Multiple Projects – Prioritize!

We interrupt this normally non-post day for a special discussion on
juggling project priorities as a writer. It’s going to be long, I
apologize, but it’s difficult explaining a process like this concisely.
After I posted my to-do list yesterday, a writer-buddy asked on twitter
how I knew where to start when the projects I’m juggling this week all
seem to be of equal importance. I thought it was worth a blog post
(because there’s no way to really explain something like that on

To review, here’s what I’ve got going on as far as writing goes this week: 

– Serial chapter for The Handyman’s Harem Girl
– Finish two other serials
– Serial chapter for horror short
– Keep working on the NaNo draft, however slowly
of the time, I prioritize by deadline. So, serial scenes are worked on
in the order they’re due every week. The posting schedule is set, so I
have a solid schedule to meet. They are: 
Tuesday: The Handyman’s Harem Girl (rom. suspense)
Weds: Fit to be Chai’ed (rom. suspense)
Thurs: Erotica serial
Friday: Horror serial
work on each scene/chapter the day before it’s due, so Monday I work on
THHG, Tuesday on FTBC, Weds the erotica serial and Thurs the horror
serial. Anything extra (anthology stories, auxiliary projects) just have
to work in wherever I have extra time (normally Friday/Saturday
I was fully planning on having three
of these serial stories done before November, so the majority of my time
could go toward the NaNo draft, but last month was so crazy I got a few
weeks behind. Hence my issue this week of working hard to finish what I
should have finished earlier, so I can play catch up with the NaNo
As far as prioritizing this week goes, I
need to put the projects closest to being finished first, with
allowances for normal serial deadlines, and then work on my NaNo draft
around those other projects. Fit to be Chai’ed and the erotica serial
were the closest to being done, with both needing one-two more scenes.
Since I knew vaguely how I wanted FTBC to end (and wasn’t so sure with
the erotica story), and the deadline for that is Weds, I decided to work
on that first. 
I spent several hours Sunday
working on it, and then another hour last night, and got it finished. My
decision to do that pushed back today’s serial chapter, but I knew I
had today off from the day job, so I’d be able to write that this
morning (and I did). So now I’m down one serial, and one normal serial
chapter. The next hard deadlines I have to meet are the Thursday erotica
serial, and Friday’s serial chapter – and the erotica serial should
take just a few hours to finish. But I am *way* behind on the NaNo draft
(I have nearly 1000 words and I should have 10k by now), so I’ve chosen
to devote a few hours to that this afternoon (free time!), and then
I’ll spend at least an hour this afternoon, and an hour this evening
working on the erotica serial. If I get it finished, that will be
*awesome*, but if not, I’ll have time tomorrow night after work to
finish it off. 
Thursday night I’ll write a
short scene (500 words or so) for the horror serial, which I’m sure I
can’t finish this week with everything else going on.  And then Friday,
Saturday and Sunday I’ll work extra hours on the NaNo draft – not
expecting to get caught up just yet, but I should be able to make some
good strides in that general direction. Next week, all the time that
would have gone towards those other two serials will be open for the
NaNo draft. 
So when I’m prioritizing projects, I take these variables into account before I decide what to work on first: 
– Deadline
– Estimated time to complete either the next section, or to finish the project

Amount of available information in my head about where the story is
going. I’m a pantser, but a lot of times the “next step” gets more clear
the further I write – so if it comes down to close deadlines and nearly
equal scenes needed to finish, I’ll work on the project that I have a
better idea of where it’s going, because that takes less time than
having to just blindly follow the characters until the story reveals
itself. Once the story I know more about is done, that nearly always
“unlocks” the other story in my brain to where it’s easier to see what
happens next.  
I know I write around 500-800
words per 30-45 minutes, so while it *always* takes me more words and
time to finish a story than I think it will, I can generally estimate
which stories will take longer in relation to other stories for
finishing time. Given enough time before the deadlines, I’ll pick the
story I know I can finish faster to work on first. 
And that’s how I decided which order to work on my writing projects this week. It ended up being: 
Finish Fit to be Chai’ed (second closest deadline, but closest to being
finished and most information available to finish with)
Scene for THHG (first deadline, ongoing serial that must be posted by
the deadline, takes 30 minutes to write a 600 word scene, extra time off
from day job on due date)
3. Work on NaNo
Draft for a few hours (longest deadline, but most behind, and I know
where it’s going for the next thousand words or more, plus a nice
“break” from the serials I’ve been writing for weeks already). 
Finish erotica serial (third deadline, need to get it off my plate to
open up time for NaNo draft so will require extra words/time this week,
have a vague idea of how it will end up)
5. More work on NaNo draft (still new enough to be sort of a “palate cleanser” between serial stories)
Horror serial scene (last hard deadline for the week, know I can’t
finish it so just needs 30-45 minutes to continue it and hit deadline
for the readers) 
7. NaNo weekend (again,
longest deadline, farthest behind, no clue where it will end up, but
need word count to meet eventual deadline).   
week will be easier – because I’ll just have the two serials and my
NaNo draft to work on. So it will probably end up something like this: 
Monday: Scene for THHG (deadline Tues – I have Monday off from the day job – Veteran’s Day)
Tuesday/Weds: NaNo draft work
Thurs: Scene for horror serial (deadline Fri)
Fri/Sat: NaNo draft work
I get a brainstorm on the horror short, in which case I’ll do that
scene earlier. I generally work best right up against deadlines though.
Always have. That’s why none of my college papers were ever written
until the night before they were due. 
As for
the rest of my to-do list…writing takes priority over pretty much
anything, but I can’t write for more than an hour or two at a time (my
brain gets fried) without a break. So the “other stuff” fits into all
the time I’m not writing – and I prioritize it both by deadline, and by
what I feel is most important (a subjective measure, to be sure, but the
only one we all have). 
Now I’m headed to the post office to mail books before I sit down and get back to making good writing use of my day off… 

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