Bouncing Between Projects
I feel like I’ve been pulled in too many directions at once recently. As I wrote in my last post, I’m re-outlining my remaining chapters using a new, detail-intensive process. It’s going well, but it’s as tiring to come up with one 500-word chapter outline as it is for me to write for 1000+, because it’s packed with all the sorts of details that have to be consistent and meaningful to create an engaging, realistic world. Recently, I’ve been trying to do both, and a handful of other projects, all at the same time, and I’m reaching a breaking point.
My daily pattern for the last week has been to write at least 500 words of narrative then try to outline one chapter each day. I have to switch gears backward and forward in my story to pull it off and, now that the outline is about 10 chapters ahead of the narrative, I’m really happy that I’ve included as many details as I did, because there is no way I could keep this all in my head. At the same time, I’m also working on a website redesign for my translation business, TranSenz (if you click that link, you’ll see just how desperate the company is for a facelift), writing occasional blog posts for the TranSenz blog, the most recent of which, of possible interest to fellow writers and reading aficionados, discusses my challenges with Japanese children’s books.
As my first draft of the work in progress draws to a close, I’m beginning to think of ideas for the next novel, as well. My plan is to follow Stephen King’s advice to leave my novel alone for a few weeks after finishing the draft, in order to get some distance before I attack the second draft. I cannot allow my writing to lapse during that time, though, so I need my new story ready to go on the same day that the current one ends. Ideally, with a developed outline.
Finding Some Peace
Ironically, a dramatic drop off in the pace at my university job, which has ranged from busy to manic over the past six months, is increasing my stress level. Without a chain of tasks to keep me busy from 9 to 17:30 each day, I have a lot more time alone with my own thoughts, but it’s also time that I can’t really work on making progress. With two blogs, two outlines, a novel, and a website on my mind, and the inability to make concrete progress, ideas from each bounce around my head, pulling me in every direction at once. Oh, I’m also reading Million Dollar Outlines (from the Book Bomb for Ben) and A Princess of Mars, when I can find the time.
The only ways I can find peace with myself now are either to focus on one project when I can make concrete progress or to be so distracted that I forget the various projects I have to work on. Fortunately, I have a wonderful wife and beautiful daughter who keep me smiling and focused on family when I’m at home. Without them, I’d be utterly lost.
I’ve hit level 4 on the Magic Spreadsheet/ Cricket, with a chain of 93 straight days of writing that have brought my rough draft to nearly 115,000 words. Based on my outline, I’m estimating another 53,000 or so remaining to bring the book to its conclusion and lay the teasers for the sequel.