When to Muse and When not to (#amwriting)

Photo credit: Eduardo (Tnarik on Flickr)

Photo credit: Eduardo (Tnarik on Flickr)

Creative Downtime

I’m between creative projects at the moment. My last book came out in August and since the mad-dash, final editing/pubbing frenzy has ended, I’ve mostly been recuperating.  I’ll be honest, I think I pushed myself a little too hard with the last deadline. Sometimes I have a problem making goals that are too lofty and then killing myself to meet them.

In the end it worked out though, and I’ve been enjoying taking the month of September off to chill out and replenish the creative well with good stories, both in print and on-screen. I’ve been focusing more on enjoying my family and my kids this month, which also helps with the post-pub recovery.

All this down time has me doing a lot of thinking. It’s good and refreshing for me to take a break, but at the same time, I’m starting to feel that tug again. I can’t be on a creative hiatus for long without experiencing some repercussions. A creative outlet is high on the list of my survival needs, and I’ve been going for a month now without a work in progress. It’s starting to feel weird.

Decisions…

That “weird” sensation in my gut tells me it’s nearly time to dive into the next creative project, but I’m currently undecided which WIP to tackle. (Or–heaven forbid–to begin a new one!)

How do you decide what project to focus on? My calculating, logical side says to weigh factors like time management (the scope of the project compared to how much available time I will have in the upcoming months), reader demand (what is most highly anticipated), and publishing schedule (when is the best time to publish?). But my creative, free-flowing side begs me to let the muse dictate. “You write better when you’re excited,” it says. And it’s true; I do. When I pick the project I’m most interested in, I begin with the biggest thrust and my momentum lasts longest. So it makes sense to use that to my advantage.

When to Muse and When Not to

Allowing the muse to drive a project may sound fickle and flighty, despite those benefits. Or maybe it sounds smart. I learned long ago not to let the muse dictate when I write, but letting her dictate what I write is another matter–and one I’m not entirely decided on.

Once I begin a project, I don’t quit until it’s finished. That’s the way I roll. The muse’s absence is not an excuse for lack of progress. I plant the bum in the chair and force the fingers to type no matter what. I’m committed to my work, which may be one of the problems that deciding what to work on is sometimes difficult. I know that when I pick something, I can’t back out. I have to finish it, even if it’s making my eyes bleed (fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet).

But should I let inspiration lead me to choose which project I work on next? Let’s say, for example, that I have several series in progress. How do I decide which book to write next? How do you decide? Do you let your enthusiasm lead or does logic dictate your writing/publishing schedule?

I’d love your thoughts. Maybe you can help me decide.

~

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