Project Management For Writers Pt. 9: The Priority Trap

CalendarLast month I sent my book, The Bow of Destiny, to my editor for a structural edit. I expected the book to be out of my hands for about thirty days. This meant it was a perfect time to work on the next book in the series, An Arrow Against the Wind, as well as some of my short fiction projects.

I set a schedule to complete the rough draft of the second book and got started. I also began a hefty overhaul of a short story that was a very rough draft. I worked into a balance with these projects after weighting their priority according to my available time.

By the time I was in a steady rhythm with these projects I had accomplished a great deal. I had written several chapters in the second book and revised the short story into a cohesive draft. I expected to finish the rough draft of An Arrow Against the Wind by the time The Bow of Destiny came back from the editor.

WritingBut to my surprise, the editor returned the manuscript several weeks ahead of schedule. There was good news as she far fewer structural issues than previously so the book is rounding into shape. I just needed to address these structural issues and be ready for the next round of detailed editing.

But now I was faced with problem. Should I finish the rough draft on which I was working or pivot to edit the manuscript in progress. I had allotted time to complete An Arrow Against the Wind but I also needed to have The Bow of Destiny ready for the editorial schedule. What should I do?

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This question stopped me cold for a few days while I weighed the options. I thoroughly enjoyed writing like I was on book 2. However, the first manuscript needs to be completed.

Dueling priorities had me trapped. The quandary had to be examined. I took a serious look at An Arrow Against the Wind. I knew there would need to be some structural changes to the manuscript. I decided to go ahead and do these to find out how much writing was still needed to complete the rough draft. In the end, I found that I needed much more than I originally thought. I could still write higher word totals each day and finish the draft by the deadline.

Puzzle Pieces.jpgNext, I considered all that needed to be addressed on the first manuscript. I started a fluid schedule to determine when I could finish the changes and be ready for the editorial schedule. I found that I would be well ahead of the schedule.

In the end, I’ve chosen to complete the edits for The Bow of Destiny. It needs to be completed first and be ready for the editor’s schedule. This weighed much more to me than the second manuscript. The advantage to completing the editing was that I would have the manuscript waiting for the editor and I could already have pivoted back to completing the rough draft of the next book, even have that completed.

The take-away here is that you can make a solid schedule but circumstances change. A project schedule should be fluid enough to allow for shifts in priority. Learning to be flexible with your schedule is necessary to managing projects – and for me these books are parts of a larger project. How you prioritize your projects is up to you but flexibility may be necessary.

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Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyWhat unexpected events have you encountered that required changes to your schedule? How have you adapted to circumstances to move in a different direction while still accomplishing your over-arching goals? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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