NaNo What Now?

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Keep your writing on track and balance multiple projects with a simple project priority list

by Jun 16, 2015Evergreen, On Writing: Craft and Commiseration, Playwriting, The Green Bird0 comments

One very simple writing tool I recently added to the mix was a dry erase board next to my computer monitor that’s a priority list of all my projects. The board used to be a list of every project I wanted to write someday and it took me until recently to realize that wasn’t motivational… it was a intimidating. Because even when I finished something and crossed it off the list, I’d look at that huge list of projects yet to do and it would really suck all the joy out of that accomplishment. 

Now it’s much like the menu at a restaurant advertising the specials. The rest of the menu is still there if I want to crack it, but it helps me to just focus on just those couple of things I’m currently most jazzed about and eager to sink my teeth into. And when I finish a project, I erase the whole list and reshuffle the priority level of everything which not only keeps me on task and focused on why I’m working on what instead of blinding following a list but is also much more satisfying for my brain than only crossing one tiny thing off a big list.

I also added a little box in the corner that just lists the number of projects I’ve worked all the way to completion and had published/sold. At the moment, this stands at 7 plays, 6 non-fiction books, and 1 book I ghost wrote so 14 total. It’s just a nice little thing to be able to glance at for those writing moments when I feel like I just can’t do it and need the reminder that I HAVE done it, lots of time, and will again.

Diva Do List

Professionalism. Moi has it.

It’s also an awesome Miss Piggy board that says “Diva do list” on it so you know you’re jealous about that.

My handwriting is really bad, I know. Eagle eyed readers will notice that, oops spoiler alert, the unannounced follow up to eBay Marketing Makeover is listed up there and that I’m, what? Writing a book about NaNoWriMo? And to those people I say, Shh, don’t tell anyone! Anyway, I took that picture right before I erased it because, drum roll please, The Green Bird is mostly done! And I’ve realized that I’m not ready to rework Daddy Issues as a 10 minute play just yet so both of those will drop off the next version of the list and be replaced by something else when I rewrite it.

I try to keep at least three projects up there at a time because I like to be able to bounce around when I feel like it and I also keep two separate lists, one for fiction and one for non, but that’s it for complications. I find the simpler the list is, the more effective it is in keeping me on track. And because I’m changing the list up every time I finish a project, it doesn’t feel stale and projects don’t languish. They get finished and get off the list to make room for whatever’s new.

What’s your latest trick for balancing projects and keeping yourself on track?



  1. On that mysterious "NaNoWriMo book" entry you spied on my list a few weeks ago... - Hillary DePiano - […] announced anything, some of you glimpsed the phrase “NaNoWriMo book” on my project list in this picture and I wanted…
  2. When is The Whine Seller's next e-commerce book coming out? - The Whine Seller - […] graphic on the top of the page and that Miss Piggy (damn that pig!) accidentally revealed the title over…
  3. As soon as I give up on a project, it comes back from the grave... - Hillary DePiano - […] get unstuck. But the moment I give myself the OK to switch and change the top priority project on my…

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About the Author

Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

Books and Plays by Hillary DePiano