The Multiple Projects Process

Writing the update that I posted recently, I wanted to also post a little ramble about the way I go about things. You may have noticed that I’ve been talking about a few different projects at the moment. And I have been jumping around more than normal.

But I do want to address how I go about that, partially so that things make a little more sense for everyone else, and partially for my own edification.

When I was writing things before, I always found that I do much better if I finish one thing before moving on to the next one. Not only is it hard to switch between mindspaces necessary to maintain tone and keep my characters in my head. I also try and keep a lot of my plot ideas and things written down, but there is definitely a lot that I keep in my head as I write, partially out of necessity (it’s hard to write down in advance every piece of character development and foreshadowing planning, especially when your process is approximately 40% discovery writing), and partially because some of it is just hard to write down – I still tend to figure out my pacing by sensation rather than by logic, and I definitely have a mental “sensation” for the tone of what I’m writing, which includes the characters, the overall sense of whether the story is happy, sad, thoughtful, whatever, and also the formal register or lack thereof.

(That last one, by the way, is why I take nearly a week to flip over to new projects properly – I can generally get a handle on my characters fairly easily, and pacing usually just requires a read back, but it’s always a struggle trying to flip from modern speech with just the anachronistic terminology and most ‘modern’ slang scrubbed out, to a fairytale archaic style, to a sort of midpoint style with very few modern sentence structures but not a lot of archaic terminology. That was more of a digression than I’d planned on)

But it’s also true that I like to leave stories for at least a month between edit passes, because it does help me get a bit of distance. So what this has practically meant for me, a lot of the time, is switching between projects. I write a draft, and then I leave it to start something else. When I’m done with that, I go back and edit. Then I either start another project or do an edit pass on something else, depending on what needs to happen.

This, I feel like, is both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, it’s going to let me have a lot of projects on the go at the same time. That’s going to work really well with the serials, so I can always have something on the go on the blog while I work on standalone projects. From a personal perspective, I also think it lets me learn new techniques and then spread them across current projects rather than finishing something, then learning something new on the next one that I wish I could have applied before.

On the other hand, it’s also a problem when I run into deadlines. Deadlines sometimes mean I just have to move on before I’ve finished a draft or edit, which leaves me in the middle of things, having to catch up to where my brain was before, re-remember all the things that fit between the things I was able to write down and all those sorts of things. It’s something I’m going to have to deal with – especially if I want to keep up with a schedule of multiple releases per year in various styles and formats.

So this is my process, and the pitfalls I’m going to have to stumble face-first into a few more times before I really consider myself “professional-grade”.

And now that I’ve got that off my chest: it’s time to go and start that rewrite again.

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