Pulled in Different Directions? Just make a damn decision.

We all get that occasional pull to do something different. Stop a project, a job, or a contract, in midstream and toy with something different–something new. I’m never sure if it’s boredom, or the thrill of the hunt for something new. But that urge for something fresh seemed to hit me this week and it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I just finished the first draft on a new novel, one dealing with a guy released from prison after fifteen years for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s all about his struggle to clear his name and exonerate himself, while adjusting to a new world where he doesn’t fit in. He’s faced with some tough choices, like: “Does he clear his name at the expense of other innocent people?” I think, for a first draft, all the bones are there and it turned out pretty well. Lots of reworking and rewriting to go, but that will pull together very quickly.

Usually by the point I get even close to the end of a first draft, my mind is already toying with the next project, the next story outline. This time–it’s not so clear.

The old Magic 8 Ball isn’t helpful.
Image by frankie leon via flickr creative commons

I have the rewrite to jump into, but I like to let a draft stew in it’s own juices for a bit to make sure I look at it with semi-fresh (and less crossed) eyes. I finished the revisions for a short fiction piece for an anthology that will be released in a few weeks, so that’s done. I have the outline for another installment in the Detective Penley series ready to go, just waiting on the green light from the publisher on that one. I have notes on two manuscripts that my agent made for some suggestions to make the stories better. And I’ve got a conference and a book release to prepare for in the next couple of months. At one point I wondered if I should take the blue pill?

So, what’s the problem? It ain’t writer’s block–I got wordeses for days. Burnout? No, I don’t think that’s it. I want to do “The Next Project,” I’m just dilly-dallying over which one is next up.

Just make a damn decision, writer-boy.

It’s that jumping into any project, is a long term deal that will demand attention and time. So, am I making the right decision? It’s a short trip to analysis paralysis. Where nothing gets done because you’re too consumed on making that one decision…

Throw all the lists, the pros and cons, away. Just make a damn decision.


So, I went with my gut and started revising one of the manuscripts my agent and I talked about, making the character a little less dark and tormented. (Note: Liz, the super-agent is never wrong) That kind of re-write, I can do. It’s a good story (I think) about a woman taking on big pharma and how they come after her when she threatens to go public. I haven’t touched this manuscript in months and reading it again is a blast. Hopefully, my agent will too and she’ll be able to sell it somewhere. But right now, my job is to do the work, and the rest will take care of itself…

I’m putting a photo of that old Doctor Doolittle creature over my desk–the Push-Me-Pull-You. It will be there to remind me to just make a damn decision.



  1. Jim, I always look forward to your “arrival” in the In-Box….I open them up first or almost first. I really enjoy your bolg posts and the seemingly random thoughts. We know their not but lets just call them that. I can’t wait for the release of the new book..it is already pre-purchased. You sure do seem to keep yourself busy with the new career; congratulations on that. Glad you are enjoying yourself so much. Keep pounding the keyboard!

    1. Thanks! I’m not bored and twiddling my thumbs. I think you’ll get a kick out of the new book.

  2. Oops….they’re…NOT their!

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