Reality Check

For you project managers out there (and you know who you are), how do you both begin and end a project?  Hmmm… 

OK, since you’re shy, I’ll tell you.  You always begin and end a project with a celebration. 

Why?  I think it’s because PM’s really like to drink… oh wait, that’s not it.  Actually, it’s to mark a definite beginning (and build the team synergies) and to create a definite end.

Great.  So what?

Well, believe it or not, your writing can be classified as a project, or better yet, as a series of projects.  Does that mean you should head out for a barley sandwich everytime you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)?

Not quite.

It does mean that you should recognize the beginning of something big and celebrate your work.  It also means that when a significant milestone is completed, you should celebrate that too.

That brings me to my own project.  By now, many of you know that I am writing a book.  You have probably read how the first chapter took me 32 tries to actually finish it to the point where I began chapter 2.  Well guess what?  Chapter last is in the can (the first draft, anyway).  By my own rules, it’s time to celebrate.

Actually, I did do just that.  I took my family out to a nice restaurant and had a steak (and a beer) and let out a big sigh of relief.

Unfortunately, this was not to be the BIG celebration.  At least, not yet.  That one is slated to happen when I receive my first copy, in print, from the publisher.  That celebration will be tied to something from an earlier post; my list of “book-friends”, or “those people I talked to about my book”.  Call them what you will, I will be celebrating with them.

Until then, I will simply check off another milestone.  Trust me, I don’t mean to downplay (or exaggerate) the importance of it.  For me, it was a MAJOR accomplishment.  However, I still have several ahead of me.

  1. 1. Complete editing the book – yup, you guessed it.  The draft is done, but I still have to make it “perfect”;
  2. 2. Research publishers – there’s lots out there, no matter your genre.  I want to find one that fits my needs;
  3. 3. Complete editing the book – yes, I know it’s number one, but you just can’t over-emphasize this one;
  4. 4. Package book for publisher (oh yeah, and don’t forget to send it) – this includes: ensuring that your manuscript is in the form that the publisher wants, you have proper packaging and a great cover letter;
  5. 5. Start next project (remember to celebrate).  You need something to keep you occupied while you perform step 6;
  6. 6. Keep fingers crossed… and wait – (maybe not exactly a milestone, but definitely one where the occasional beer might help) hope and prayer might help a bit here too.  You may get rejected at this point.  If you do, go back to number 2;
  7. 7. CELEBRATE (yes, again) when accepted – first book?  You might want to REALLY paint the town red when the publisher lets you know.  I know I plan to.

The realization that I had more steps to take was a much-needed cold dose of reality when I first finished the rough draft of my book.  But I also needed to recognize the achievement.  Don’t sell yourself short when you accomplish your milestones, whatever they may be.  It could be finishing the first chapter of a story or writing a piece of dialogue that you really love.  It doesn’t really matter.

For those of you who find that things have stalled, remember that project management is an art more than a science.  You might need to add a milestone like (Sean, this one’s for you buddy):  ”get a life for 3-weeks”.  Get it out of the way and let yourself look at the (re)start of your writing as a victory (with the raising of beverage of choice and a cheer).

The victories are what keeps you coming back and they are what help you to enjoy what you do.  After all, without fun, it’s just another job and who wants that?  We want a passion not more work. 

Sometimes you just have to remember the old saying, “The more I drink, the better you look.”  No, wait, I said remember it, not live it!

So toast your victories and learn from your mistakes.  And above all, have fun with your writing!

Now, where is that beer?


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