There’s an industry term bantered around that I find funny, but then I realized, it may be one of those things that not everyone finds funny so I’ll tame my laugh and keep my eyes focused by writing about it.

My entire life, I have found that whenever faced with a difficulty that gives me pause; if I write about it, it all comes out in the wash and life goes on. This has worked for everything from teen/parental angst to miscued love to financial and business disputes.  If you get a letter from me, you can be sure it is something to consider.

Now this term is nothing of incredible seriousness, but it could change the way you look at your writing and the goals you have for it.

STACKING PROJECTS is an efficient / producerial (my word not theirs) way of describing a writer that has a lot of stories in the works and various stages — stages that can be anything from the seed of a concept to the final draft or polish for production/publishing notes.  I find this term funny because for me I have ALWAYS had numerous projects in the fire.  From novels that need illustrations to stacks of specs to developing and consulting on other’s projects to writing a blog. Sure, some are more precious to me than others, but if I ever only had ONE project on my plate my brain would cease to function.  That’s who I am, and I know for a fact that many other storytellers are the same way.  It falls into the category of ‘why write?’  — I write because I don’t know how NOT to write.

My car literally has pads of post its that I write on while driving because you never know when the right string of words will present itself.

But then I considered those that I know and help that are so passionate about one of their projects that it is the only thing they can focus on.

One of my colleagues sent me a script of theirs after it was entered into a highly regarded comp. a year or so ago, I gave my coverage as I would have for someone I didn’t know so well, and elaborated knowing his personality.  He thanked me profusely and later, let me know that my notes were consistent with the (no advance) response he got – he’d be in touch in a year or two when he got out another.  (Wow, I thought – this poor guy will never make it at that pace).  But who knows he just might, after all it only takes one – right? (More on that in a bit)

Then I considered another writer I consulted for over the past year and half on the same script (6 times he had me do full notes – sometimes at rush rates).  How happy and proud was I to see he just placed in Cinestory’s competition.  (I don’t even know what others he may have entered – I just saw his name come across in their list) .  So, clearly in his dedication to that ONE story it paid off.  And let’s not forget THE HELP, that woman was rejected more than 60 times – she would sequester herself in hotel rooms and tell her family she was away on business (oh, how I can relate) just to work on and rework on that ONE project for FIVE YEARS.

Many ‘insiders’ preach to have a repertoire of projects – in the event you ever do get an agent or producer to listen to your pitch – if they like your style but the project may not be right for their slate – the first words out of their mouths are ‘what else have you got.’

So the real question is, do you perfect the ONE you know is good or put it aside to work on others and hope someday you’ll be able to see your baby into the world via some other sale that gets your name noticed?  Certainly it is a personal choice and style.  But if you do sell your baby, chances are it will not rake in enough to quit your day job – so you better have another ONE stacked in the queue.  And one after that ONE and so on… Why? Because you don’t want to be a writer, you ARE a writer, and that’s what you do.

Curious to know what style writer are you?

Here’s a couple links of interest that may help on this topic:

Forum on being overloaded with writing projects

Go Into the Story archive

Kathyrn Stockett THE HELP

2 thoughts

  1. I think there’s a wide margin between people who say “I want to write this story” and people who say “I want to be a writer.” The latter is born with the Pringles mentality of “Once you pop, you can’t stop.”

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