As someone who’s spent my whole life working mostly on one large project after another, you’d think novels wouldn’t be as hard for me to write as they actually are.
I had this glimpse into why: I generally had a sense, at all times, whether something was on the critical path—or not. There were desired features and planned expansions, but building them wasn’t part of my initial task. So there were clearly things on the critical path—and not. Generally, there was at least something of an order: I need to get pretty far along in X before I can test Y, so let’s write X first. I can work on Y if I’m stumped on X.
In a novel, generally all of the planned scenes need to be written because they’re interwoven. It’s all on the critical path.
Non-fiction’s different: some items may be optional. If they’re not written for the book itself, they can be re-used in other ways, like website content or newsletter content.
So I don’t necessarily have a sense of what I should work on next. The list is too large. Since I write out of order frequently that makes the problem set too large.
I’m going to have to think about this.