One of the reasons I’m obsessed with the film Synecdoche is the horror of watching Caden Coutard’s project spin out of control. There’s that moment in the trailer, where the cast face him and someone asks: “When are we gonna get an audience in here? It’s been seventeen years.”
So many of the things I’ve worked on have spun out of my control – on a smaller scale than in Synecdoche, but still out of control. The book on curry feels like it exploded all over my hard drive and bookshelves. I have reams of notes, but no clear single thread. I’m not even sure where to start with it now. Even things like the spoken word show, which received such positive response, have stalled.
I’m currently working on a project about hiking and Brexit (I’ll return to curry eventually). This emerged from a talk I gave in October, as part of the Indelicates album launch. I’ve been working on that same subject much of the time since then. And it’s sprawling. I’ve done my best to keep it under control, with Scrivener saving me from losing track of the notes.
I think the only thing that will keep this under control is getting things out into the world. One of my aims for 2018 was to produce something every month. I managed this for the first three month. My April project, a zine about hiking and Theresa May is part of the hiking/Brexit project. It won’t emerge until May, but the second part should also turn up the same month. I have several trips booked during the summer, which form part of the research. The difficult thing is going to be moving forwards despite all the different threads in play.
I think it’s worth doing, and hopefully I’ll also learn enough about managing these epic projects that I can then work backwards and fix the other ones.If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list
2 thoughts on “Sprawling Projects”
Dare I suggest a Scrum approach to tackling this? X week sprints with a ‘potentially shippable’ product at the end of each sprint? And maybe you should actually ship (publish on Medium) each time – to a select audience.
Or you could use a Kanban approach and continuously deliver. Can Medium support feature toggles? Maybe keep a backlog in Trello.
That’s not a bad idea… Maybe formalising the rhythm of it would be a good idea – and stop me getting distracted by all the different aspects of it. I’m going to try to get the first part published this weekend which will be a good time to reassess things.