The Rule of Seven

I’m a great starter, but not such a great finisher. I love to start new projects. My head bursts with ideas. I’m assailed daily with plots and characters and settings, premises, beginning and ends.  I have to resist the urge to add each one to my growing pile of projects, of works in progress.

I could easily become a project hoarder. I could have a hundred or more partly finished projects on the go at once.  I could never EVER finish anything. The only thing that saves me from this unhappy outcome, is my self imposed “rule of seven”.  I don’t remember where the rule of seven came from.  I might have said it once, flippantly, to someone who was asking me about my writing. “I only ever work on seven projects at once”. Perhaps because of the cognitive rule of seven, I arbitrarily gave myself this limit.  But the limit is what gives me the freedom to pursue another project, should one begin to falter or stagnate, as they so often do.

So what are the projects in my current “rule of seven”? I have a middle grade ghost story; one (3/4 complete). I have a lower middle grade realism ; two (3/4 complete). I have a YA sci fi; three (just started). I have a sports novel ; four (almost done and sold). I have a non fiction for young readers ; five (proposal 3/4 complete). I have a complete MG that I’m marketing; six. I have another completed YA verse novel that I’m marketing: seven.

The sports novel is nearly done. It’s under contract at Lorimer Publishers and I hand in the final draft for copy editing and type-setting in four days.  All that’s left for me to do is approve galleys etc. Since I don’t have to do any marketing work on that one it will drop off my list.  I will work on finishing the lower middle grade and perhaps move another lower middle grade that has been bottom drawered for quite some time, back on to the list. I recently had a publisher interested in this, all the way up to acquisitions, but in the end, they couldn’t get the budget committee to agree. So it’s a good project. If I can get someone else interested, that will move to the top priority (projects with publisher interest always take precedence). Otherwise I might just put it back in the drawer. If that’s the case, I might develop and pitch another sports story. I had fun writing the current one, and I don’t think many other writers are working with the sport I’m writing about, so the market is wide open.

So, seven projects on the boil at once. All those other great ideas will just have to wait.

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