The Rule of Five

Contrary to popular belief, I do not have ADD.  Not to disparage anyone who does have that affliction, but my condition is far worse.

I have a Writer’s Mind.  This means that I can find interest and meaning in the most mundane and trivial of things.  I also have a short attention span and get easily bored.

Because of this, I often find it hard to concentrate solely on one project at a time.  However, the alternative of concentrating on every project at one time isn’t much better.  It’s like the old joke about why you can’t have everything… where would you put it? (Answer:  Everywhere… yeah, I think about these things…)

So after several years of trial and error (and yes, I am a slow learner), I’ve decided that five is the magic number, the optimal number of projects I can keep active at one time.  This doesn’t meant that I am actively working on all five at once, it just means these these five are the ones I’m allowed to work on.  And I stick Post-Its with their names on the shelf above my computer to remind me which ones are current, just to keep myself honest.

Well…. “Honest” is a subjective term here.  Yes, I agree, this does sound like a cop-out.  You could say it’s an easy escape clause I could use whenever I get too rattled by the size of the wall I’ve built with my Writer’s Blocks.  And you know what?

You’d be right.

Another writer friend tells me over and over that any writing is good writing, even when it’s bad, because at least you will have written.  So, believing this to to be true, I use the multiple-project approach as a way to keep moving forward.  If I get stuck on one project, rather than wallowing in the abject and tooth-pulling misery of being unable to come up with the… exact… right… word, if I get stuck, I can just lateral the ball onto another project and keep moving down the field.

And (mixed-sports metaphors aside) I’ve found it tends to jar loose whatever block has intimidated me that day.  Yes, it is intimidating to me.  I’m of the perfectionist school of writing, where I want it to be perfect when it flows off my fingers and onto the page.  I want pearls of perfect prose to prance about the printed page.

It doesn’t happen.


Ok, sure, Callie Khouri says her first draft of Thelma & Louise was the one they bought and filmed, but we hate her so that doesn’t count (j/k, Callie).

More often than not, good writing comes from rewriting.  And I hate rewriting.  However, it is the most necessary evil out of a world of necessary evils, at least for me.  But to get to that necessary evil, you have to write your first draft… first.

As this blog is designed to keep me on track and honest,  I’ve decided to list the Current Five Projects of Doom, so that I can refer to them in shorthand and you can hold me accountable for their progress.  Some are externally driven, which is a good thing, but most are internal which means that I am the only person accountable for their completion.

1)      Graphic Novel – Being written as a script, as I am most familiar with that format.
2)      Audio Drama – Adaptation of Best-selling novel, being done as online radio drama.
3)      Historical Script – Action period piece.  Still in planning stages.
4)      Mystery Novel – An ongoing project that started in college but shifted dramatically after I started reading real mystery writers
5)      Myth Script – Based on Arthurian Tradition.

So those are my targets.  And I’ve shared them with you.  Now comes the time to see if I have enough arrows in my quiver and a strong enough bow to hit them.

Talk to you soon.  I’m off to get inspired by Bruce Springsteen at the Sports Arena


About TonyC

Voracious Reader, sometimes-writer, director and producer. Hopes to make a living from his words someday soon. And get a dog. Likes: Springsteen, good books, intelligent movies, clean modern architecture, smart cute girls with glasses, and rain. Dislikes: bad drivers, trendy food, heat waves, and writers block. View all posts by TonyC

4 responses to “The Rule of Five

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