When I was younger I had a teacher that would put all of her students' names on popsicle sticks then place the sticks in a coffee mug. Then when she asked questions of the class if no one raised their hands or if she needed volunteers she would draw name sticks from the mug. Later on a classmate had a similar system for chores and homework. She would write everything down on small dry erase board pieces then put them in a bowl drawing them out one by one and wiping them clean as she completed the tasks.
I began yesterday working on a number of outlines and files for projects that have been swimming around in my head. As I finished the third outline last night I noticed how much quieter the voices in my head were getting. At first I attributed it to the fact that I was so focused on the storyline I was writing that the rest had simply decided to silence themselves but then I realized that even as I moved from one to the next it was still a much softer rumble. Just as my friend and former teacher had done I was mentally pulling sticks out for each project and with them came the voices of the associated characters.
Now as I am preparing to cross off another group of outlines and files from the ever growing to do list I came hear the screams for attention of all the remaining characters vying for their turn in the spotlight. I have promised each that I will give them a time to shine and as I attempt to finally get all of the outlines written today I shall keep my word. It is odd though that the characters out of respect for other stories were calm for so long but now that they sense an opening coming in the near future they are all clamoring for attention once again.
I am excited though to see that as I concentrate and open my mind to the characters that they have waited patiently revealing the outlines of each of their stories for me and while some have lain dormant for a year or more they are still fresh and come to mind easily when I focus. The next year and a half or so should prove to be very exciting for me as a writer and I hope for this that enjoy my work as well.