Encouragement When You’re Between Projects

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Follow That Dream Parkway

I am in that deliciously terrifying place right now called, “Between projects.” It’s generally a greasy mess of excitement about the possibilities, abject terror of starting something new, and wait mode.

As I’m working up the courage to dive into another big project, ideas are popping like microwave popcorn, but I’m not sure which one to tackle next. I’m also trying not to pace as I await responses to projects already in the works.

In between the waiting and dreaming and excitement, I’m also fighting the ever-present doubt gremlins who ask, “Really, you think you can write another book? Do you remember how much work that was? And what if it isn’t any good?” Just the other day someone said, “Angel Falls was absolutely wonderful. It’s going to be really hard for you to top that.” Gulp. Double gulp.

Follow That Dream Parkway

Follow That Dream Parkway, Inglis, FL

I snapped a picture of this actual street sign a few weeks ago, and had to share it here because it fits so perfectly. We all have dreams to follow! If you happen to be where I am now, standing on the precipice looking down into the vastness of “what’s next” on the way to your dreams, here is what I’m reminding myself.

–If I break the project or idea into manageable chunks, it isn’t quite so overwhelming. Even a measly 100 words a day will quickly add up. Two hundred words a day = a novel in a year.

–Creativity doesn’t just strike once, or rarely, like lightening. If we show up to do the work every day, our muse will find us there. (That’s how Steven King put it in his writing book. You can get a copy of On Writing here if you haven’t already.)

–Remember that it’s ok to write really, really lousy first drafts. Really and truly. Just ask Anne Lamott. I reread her wonderful writing book, Bird by Bird, every other January as a refresher course.

–Whenever we try to create, there is resistance. How do we fight it? We create anyway. Steven Pressfield calls it, The War of Art and offers practical suggestions to fight it.

–Give yourself time to dream big, journal, make lists, scribble, pray, and simply…think. Take time to refill the creative well. Get out of your cave and interact with friends. I love a book called, The Creative Call, by Janet Elsheimer.  After a while, you’ll have your answer and will be ready to dive in.

–Start. Somewhere. Anywhere. Take one teeny tiny step today. And then do it again tomorrow. And the next day…

I’m off to do some more journaling and thinking and scribbling.

How about you? What strategies do you use when you’re between projects? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

I was thrilled to learn that Clark Matthews of KNEO radio talked about  Angel Falls (and several other Abingdon titles) on his Author Talk program recently. Here’s the KNEO radio link, if you’d like to take a listen.

(By the way, the above book links are affiliate links, but I only include books/products I believe in.)

Have a great weekend and happy dreaming, everyone!

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    The Conversation

  1. You nailed it with ‘greasy mess’ and ‘popcorn’ I’m in that place right now. Don’t have a way to deal with it excpet for cleaning the fridge and baseboards…I think I’ll start a new project.

    • Connie Mann says:

      You’re way ahead of me if you’re cleaning, Diana. I usually *think* about cleaning. That’s often enough to get me excited about a new project. 🙂

      Have fun starting something new!

  2. Great post, Connie. I ADORE “Follow That Dream Pkwy”! There has to be a great story behind it. I’m not between projects at the moment, but we’ve all been there. Your advice is very sound. Good luck on your next big one!

    • Connie Mann says:

      I agree–there must be a story behind the sign. If I find out, I’ll be sure to let you know! Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks so much for the encouragement!

  3. My next contract isn’t due until Nov. 13th. So I have plenty of time to write an “on spec” mss before then. Keeping motivated is tough . . . Some kind of goal or responsibility group helps me. There are a couple on FB . . . Julie Jarnigan’s “Accountability for Writers” group, the “1K1HR” group.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Darlene, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has trouble getting going without a deadline looming! Great ideas for places online to help stay on task and motivated. Thanks so much for sharing them! Hope the spec mss goes well… 🙂

  4. Mary Ricksen says:

    I spend a lot of time between projects and thanks for the tips!

  5. Ruth says:

    Great post, Connie. I especially liked the King quote about the muse showing up for work when you do. So true!

  6. Biggest problem I had with the in-between is that twice the Lord had me there as family members died (so I have that twinge of concern when one is looming ahead of me) but mostly I love time to dream and create new ideas-I delayed starting my next book (I will start on Aug 5) so I would have time to catch up with articles I wanted to write, work on a few proposals, and dream a little.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Karen,
      Oh my, I can understand your “twinge of concern.” Wow, that’s hard. But I’m so glad you give yourself the time to dream and create new ideas. Too often, we don’t allow ourselves that; we’re too busy rushing into the next project. Thanks for the encouragement!

  7. Jan Jackson says:

    I am always amazed at how our brains are wired so much the same. I just tweeted about the gremlins of self doubt and blogged about the song playing in my head from Cinderella, “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” The Disney version. Love that Gus mouse. Anyway, great post, timely as usual. Rock on, Connie.

    • Connie Mann says:

      That’s too funny. Yeah, we are wired very much the same. 🙂 So thrilled about your great RWA conference experience. Can’t wait to hear what happens next. This is your year, girl!!