So far in my endeavours as a writer I have learned a fair amount. I wouldn’t say I have learned a lot, as I am sure what I have learned pales in comparison to what I am yet to learn. I have a tendency to consider this hobby of mine to have started about one and a half years ago, but that number is not entirely accurate.
I first had ideas for stories I felt worth writing down years before that, and in fact I had made two attempts at writing a novel which had not gone anywhere. The first lesson I learned was that I needed structure to succeed. My first two tries had failed because I knew the destination, but had not planned the journey. This particular project was somewhat larger and more challenging than Colossus, with a lot of possible distractions along the way. I found myself meandering, to the point where I just stopped because I had got myself lost. When I had planned everything out and broken the story down into chapters, it was much easier to navigate piece-by-piece.
I assume this lesson is a no-brainer, but I’d like to think that it is something that other writers and authors have discovered, either by being flat-out told it or discovering it for themselves.
Another thing that became evident to me is the subject of this post, being scattered. I don’t know if others have a similar issue, but I find that I am writing multiple stories simultaneously. It is all too easy for me to spread myself too thin, I only have so much time to spend each week at the keyboard, dividing it over five or six projects would mean I’d never actually get anything finished.
I’ve always been able to juggle multiple stories in my mind, which for the simpler tasks like planning is excellent, I’ve already got about 20 ideas stowed away on my computer ready to be developed. But when it comes to actually writing them, I will often jump between them. I tend to find myself in different moods, and different moods match different projects. It would be very easy for me to end up with 20 unfinished messes instead of any one coherent thing.
Again I believe the answer to this is in structure and planning. I wrote Colossus initially in the space of a month or so, in the middle of writing the longer project (currently in draft form and in serious need of revisiting and editing) and I found for those two projects that sitting down and creating a to-do list of which chapters to write in what order made it easier for me to prioritise and focus. I am trying that again, although more ambitiously this time. I’m going to attempt to juggle four projects at once (which I have been doing in an unstructured way for about two months now) and see if I get anywhere. If I manage to do one item on the list a week (which is probably an optimistic estimate) I’ll be going for more than a year. I hope that, after a few months, one of the projects will break away from the others and I will know which one to prioritise a few months down the line.
Hopefully I’ll let you know how it goes.