I’m currently getting a story ready for submission. I haven’t sold any stories recently, but I have gotten a couple of holds and a couple more personal rejections. I’m not completely numb to rejection yet, but I have to tell you, anything you do a lot of, you get better at. I have a large collection of rejection letters, so I suppose I’m getting better at that.
I wrote a bit about editing not that long ago, so I’m not going to get too deep into it here, but I do have something else that I would like to touch on.
My own personal inclination is working on multiple projects at once. I know that is anathema to some people, but I constantly find it to be a reinforcing practice. Working on one thing will improve another thing I am thinking about, or working on. Editing this particular story helped me find solutions to problems I was having with two other stories. These are solutions that I might have come to if I had only worked on one story at a time, but I doubt it.
I have also talked about how brains like to work on background processes. At least that seems to be how my brain works. Setting a story as a background process means that I will probably figure out some way to improve it while I work on something else. Sometimes that other thing I’m working on is a piece of art, or code, or construction, or metal work, or even another story. Stories seem to be particularly good at running as a background process. Again, this is in my brain. Maybe your brain might be better at running different things as background processes.
Mine likes stories.
There is, of course, an upside and a downside to working this way. On the upside, nothing is ever abandoned, because you can have a lot of background processes running. On the downside, you have to be extremely disciplined about keeping notes, and knowing the difference between being distracted away from whatever your main task is, and taking a moment to make a note.
I still have to work at both of those, but just like rejection, everything you do a lot of, you get better at. I have made it a habit to quickly mark up stories so that I can remember how to fix them when I eventually get around to it. I usually write in Scrivener, but I keep google doc versions of most of my writing, so that I can make those notes no matter where I am, but in both, I use the same system for adding notes to already written passages. I use a hierarchy of folders and files, and all of that is automatically backed up so that I don’t accidentally lose any stories or notes and I know where to look when I get back to working on a particular story.
It is likely that very little of this is helpful to anyone else writing, or trying to write, but you can take this as permission to work on more than one thing. Absolutely, make a habit of finishing stories, but bouncing from one to the other and pushing them all forward is absolutely a valid way to work. In some cases, it will even be helpful. Let those background processes run.