In my experience, every writer has a projects list. Whether it’s scribbled on a series of used napkins, or meticulously managed and organised via a complicated computer program, everyone has their projects list: the many ideas they are working on, will someday work on, and may never work on. I have one too, though it’s in a million pieces in a dozen places. It’s, in a way, the centre of my world.
What is a projects list? Well, it comes in a number of different sizes and shapes. For example, mine is composed of:
- A list of pilot titles in my iPod, any of which launches a full file of development information in my brain when I see them. (15 items)
- A ‘Wounded Tilapia Productions Roster‘ file I made a while back, listing the various projects I’d like to pursue via WTP in the coming years. (17 items)
- The web of folders in my now-dead computer, with all the files for my in-progress and ‘comatose’ projects (who knows how many).
- A hidden post on The Diversionist detailing a handful of the most current ones. (7 items)
- The thousands of ‘to do’ lists I seem to write every week.
- My entire brain.
Now, most of these have a handful that overlap; similarly, there are handful that aren’t contained within any of these. When I thought about writing this post, at first, I merely was thinking about talking the state of having a thousand potential projects following you wherever you may go, and the Herculanean task of balancing and scheduling work on them. What’s become more and more clear to me, as I look over my own Projects List, is that I need to build myself a decent central base for this list, even if the creative elements are kept out to avoid copyright snatching.
Many of these projects have deadlines. For example, assignments for school: I’m working on a spec script, two pilots (including bibles) and a pitch this semester, and I have a webseries in edits due to go out in March. Not to mention the short films I’m writing for a classmate, due to be drafted within the week. Sometimes these deadlines shift, as they did with my last webseries episode; it was originally due in December, and ended up airing mid-January. Sometimes they’re self-set. Sometimes they’re soft; you want to be done to submit it to a contest, say, but it’s not a crucial deadline to meet.
The projects list, in my head, is the centre of how I approach every day. I think about what needs to get done, what I’d like to work on, and what I’ve neglected. Sometimes my energies shift; for example, through November I devoted significant amounts of time to two projects, both of which have slipped back onto the backburner as of January. Meanwhile, older projects that have been on the backburner for (in one case) two years are suddenly seeing a renewed amount of development, as I use my old notes to develop them for class assignments or early WTP projects. Occasionally I finish them, usually those earmarked for school (which get handed in) or the virtual series world (which ‘air’, making further edits unnecessary), but usually they remain in some form of stasis until I move forward further on them.
This system works for me. I’m not a one-medium kind of guy, so while I’ve focused my career on dramatic television, I’ve got a little bit of everything in my vault: graphic novels, books, short stories, blog articles, video games. Projects can get more or less development based on my current drives and opportunities, which is nice. And it keeps me busy.