Last night I took the outline I'd created for the new, as-yet-untitled project and dropped it into a freshly created wiki. Still no title — I'm brainstorming those sidecar — but at least the project now has a formal home like others before it.
For those who haven't been following along: Ever since Flight Of The Vajra, I've tracked and managed my long-form writing projects using a personal wiki. Flat files didn't cut it; they quickly became baggy and difficult to search. A wiki takes the form you impose on it, and makes it easier to drop stuff in at random and let an order emerge from the elements on demand.
The outline for this project, though, I didn't write in the wiki itself as I normally might. Instead, I tried an experiment — I opened a file in Google Docs and wrote it up there. All this did was convince me Google Docs are not useful for anything more than the most trivial of efforts. A 20-page document takes seconds on end to load, and it's far too easy to accidentally start typing in the middle of the document while it's still loading than you might imagine. The only real advantage was being able to work collaboratively on a document, or edit it on a mobile device, but the former doesn't really become useful until much later in the creative process and the latter is like trying to eat a seven-course meal that's being shoved through the crack under a door.
What I have so far is just the outline I wrote, links to each of the major characters, and a pile of miscellaneous notes from the previous iterations of the project all tagged as "Obsolete". But it's enough for a start.
Once a project has a formal home like this, it tends to gather momentum. This isn't an ironclad rule — a few previous projects got as far as the wiki stage before stalling, but I think I knew on some level they were waterlogged and just didn't want to admit it to myself. Momentum alone isn't enough for such projects, but it's easy to tell yourself it is — that if you just Keep Writing the thing, all those intractable issues will magically clarify themselves. (Hint: they don't.) But this time around, enough has been settled ahead of time that I don't feel like I'll be spinning my wheels.
And again, no title, but again, I can live without that for a while.