Project Management: Stepping Stones

Hopefully you’ve taken your Dream List and broken it down into your top MUST DO priorities with a few ROCKSTAR goals just in case.  Now the question you should be asking yourself is HOW you can reach your goals.  

I’m reminded of the scene in The Mummy when O’Connell and Benny are yelling at each other across the river after the boat catches on fire.  Did you find yourself on the wrong side of the river?  Right now, the task may seem insurmountable. 

That’s because you’re looking at the river and letting it become an ocean in your mind. 

Instead of setting up a permanent camp of despair on the wrong side of the river, pick your number one priority item on your MUST DO list.  For me, that’s finish the first draft of Victor, the NaNoWriMo book.  Begin to make a list of all the things you need to do to meet that goal.  Anything, no matter how little, that you can do to accomplish the task.

So for Victor, I know I’m into Act III and the Resolution of the story.  That means I have a bunch of threads I need to tie up.

  • I need to tie up the romance between Victor and Shiloh, make sure they’re comforted and secure after the final showdown in the show.
  • I need to show how the trap Victor laid for the spy is revealed and resolved.
  • I need to reward Shiloh with the elixir, the very thing she created the show in order to win.
  • I need a clever, fun, sexy ending.

So I have about 4 scenes, give or take, that need to be written in order to finish my task.  I’m guessing this is less than 5K, and so I should definitely be able to finish by 12/7, which was my goal.

Maybe your goal is revisions.  I have three types of revisions I need to work on this month, and each will require a different set of tasks in order to accomplish them.  Maybe you like to read thru first and make notes as you go, and then tackle the revision.  Maybe you like to read online — or from a hardcopy with sticky notes.  Whatever your process, make a list of all the things that will enable that process and make you successful.

Maybe your goal is worldbuilding or plotting a new story.  (I have a ROCKSTAR goal for this.)  So my stepping stones are going to look something like:

  • Brainstorm and research.  These two often go hand-in-hand for me when beginning a story, until one particular element speaks the most to me.
  • Listen for the character(s) to show up.  Usually about the time I’ve settled on an interesting research item, a character starts blabbing in my ear about how cool all this stuff is.
  • Begin building the character.  (See the Character Clinic, the Emotional Toolbox, etc.)
  • Begin plotting the journey.
  • Write backstory.
  • Create a world bible (if the story needs it).

So pull out your A1 – MUST DO priority and figure out what step to tackle first.  Now you can cross small items off the list and feel like you’re actually paddling your way across the river, instead of stranded on the wrong side.  Don’t tell me you’re waiting for 2010, either – we’ve still got plenty of time to cross a dozen things off the list in December!

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