How many projects are you working on?

If you’re like me when I got started, your answer is “one”.  And here’s why you need to go out and get a few more right now.

The development of a show is like walking through a mine field.  Something could explode at any time.  You could fail to get the rights, an author may quit, you may lose funding, and so on.  You could literally be working on a show for years and have it end just like that!  (insert finger-snap noise here)

Having multiple projects gives you an insurance policy for your career (and your mental state) if a project does disintegrate during development.

See, I know you guys.  Once you get an idea, you run with it like you’re in the Boston marathon, right?  You write scripts, develop marketing campaigns, t-shirt slogans, etc.  That’s great, but you have to be careful.  Don’t get yourself so emotionally invested that you can’t move on if you have to quit the race, due to no fault of your own.

True story . . . I had an idea to do an evening of monologues and songs based on the book Mole People.  I wrote half of a script.  I started contacting songwriters.  I was really pulling it all together . . . before I had finalized the rights agreement.

Then guess what happened when the Author changed agents, and her new ten-percenter and his ten-dollar haircut refused to give me the rights because they were holding out for an HBO film deal (never came, by the way).  Go on, guess.

I lost the rights.  And I cried.

I did too much.  I went too far.  I wasn’t just emotionally invested.  I was emotionally obsessed. And when one of the mines went off, I was destroyed.  A year and a half wasted, and I had nothing to show for it.

If I had another project to work on, it wouldn’t have been such a heartbreak.

Cy Coleman used to say developing shows was like planting a garden.  You plant a whole $@%&-load of seeds, water them all, then stand back and see which grows first.

I guess that’s why, even when he died, he was working on a number of projects.  He’s probably in tech for three of them at the same time right now.

Be focused, yes, but diversify your project porfolio.  You wouldn’t put all of your money into one stock, don’t put all of your heart into one show.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.