Saturday, July 7, 2007

Organizing Your Ideas Via The PATH Method

I don't mean organizing the elements to your story, I'll cover that in another post, but I mean literally organizing all the different story ideas you get throughout the day/week/month/year. If you're like me you have several writing projects going on all at once (or want to) but you're never really quite sure which project to tackle first and devote a majority of your energy on.

Here's what I do.

I made up a little system I call the PATH method (don't confuse it with CPM which is far more complex) to help me find out which projects should be tackled before others.

This PATH method I've devised and have been using is pretty simple but I'll admit it's far from comprehensive and yeah, needs a new name.

PATH stands for Project Analyzation Tool using Heuristics. Not the best name ever but whatever.

How it works:

Make a chart with six columns across the top. Label these:


Underneath these put your story ideas, one story per row, and try to group them together into groups like Novels, Short Stories, Screenplays etc... Now, under the headings Research, Marketability & Time to Complete you're going to drop in a number from 1 to 5. These number are important.

Worst/Hard 1 2 3 4 5 Easy/Best

So 1 is something that's hard or has the worst attributes while 5 has the best attributes or is the easiest.

So, for example, if you're working on Novel A and it requires a lot of Difficulty or Research to write you may put in a 2, then under Marketability you guess that it's somewhat marketable so you put in a 3, and finally under Time To Complete you know it'll take a long time so you drop in a 1. Total them up and you get 2 + 3 + 1 = 6.

For the chart the lower the total the further down the list of things to write it is. You want high totals for your first projects. Lets try another one:

Novel B is going to be nearly completely made up so you score the Difficulty (since there's no Research) a 4, and it's going to be very Marketable you think so you give it a 5 there, finally the Time To Complete will only last as long as it'll take you to type it up and do one rewrite so you score that a 4. What's our total? 4 + 5 + 4 = 13. 13 is greater than 6 so knock out Novel B before you start digging into Novel A.

Not only will you get your projects completed faster but ideally, you'll have something out there submitted while you're working on the next project.

Remember, the higher the score the better off you are working on that project before others. I've used this with other things as well from non-writing projects to actual real-world things I need to do. It's not as detailed as the GTD method but it doesn't have to be. This is just a simple way to plot out your projects and get a big picture view of them to see which order you can finish them all up in, in the least amount of time and probably have more fun doing it.

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