Project management is a fantastic, albeit dull sounding, set of skills you can use to guide the process of taking an idea from inception to submitted manuscript.
Project management was born in the early half of the 20th century, largely to meet the needs of massive engineering projects. It deals with initiation, design, implementation, and close out of major projects. It is not managing day to day, recurring tasks (that’s operations management), but instead activities that have a defined endpoint. For example, writing is an author’s operation, but delivering a particular manuscript is a project.
Projects face the triple constraint: scope, schedule, and cost. Usually setting one impacts either or both of the other factors. You may have a plot in mind, and from that flows the schedule and budget (the wiring time and editing costs being driven by the page length). Project management can help you get the best outcome, schedule, and budget.
Project management has many, many schools of thought and corresponding tools. The specifics of those are not important right now. Instead, focus on the overall concept that changes to scope, schedule, or budget are best accommodated early in the project. At the core, project management for authors is easy. Define the scope (e.g.: plot), determine the time you’ll need, and the costs of completing the manuscript; rinse and repeat as needed until you reach a satisfactory scope, schedule, and budget.
That was painless! In subsequent posts I’ll walk you through some very easy planning tools. Stay tuned.