WRITING BLAST©2012, Vicki Hinze
It’s summer. The grands are home from school, and we had a lovely day on Tuesday, my first official day off in two months. I was in a writing surge, but more on that in a bit. On Tuesday, we went to the Naval Aviation Museum. I love that museum. Over 160 planes and tons of information on aircraft carriers and the evolution of the space program and tons and tons of history. Wonderful library—I could spend a week in just that spot.
We leave the museum and breeze by Fort Barracus, view the lighthouse—more fun—and then stop for lunch at a locals’ favorite on the water. In that parking lot, we see a produce stand with fresh Georgia peaches and stop to get some. They’re the best! So my daughter and two angels are in the car and Hubby hops out to get the peaches.
A woman in a truck backs into the frontend of my Pilot—and keeps pushing. We’re all screaming at her to stop. She does and says she didn’t realize she’d hit us. Huh? Well, the good news is no one was hurt, the Pilot took the hit and push and wasn’t damaged, the police did their thing and we left—and made the drive home.
Even with the minor inconvenience of a wreck, we had a great day, built some good memories and I’m grateful for that. (The peaches are fantastic, too.)
So the celebration of completing two projects was done and the evening and Wednesday morning were spent in a mental dilemma: which of two new series do I write next.
That’s a common problem for writers. So many ideas swirl in our minds, it’s hard to pin down to just one. During the previous writing blasts, I got ideas for four series and a single title project. Simply put, I was torn between which I wanted to do next and which I should do next for strategic purposes. I love them all, and that’s typically the key criteria in the decision-making process. Whatever I love most goes next.
This time, that wouldn’t work. The more I thought about each project, the stronger the case became for it to have its turn—now. So what to do, what to do?
I called a wise counselor to discuss the dilemma. Every writer needs a wise counselor, in my humble opinion. We get mired in the forest and can’t see the trees. The wise counselor can—and often sees new aspects to consider that haven’t rated high on our personal radar.
My wise counselor was familiar with all the projects—she and I had vetted them during the writing blast (and also vetted and brainstormed a bit for her—this isn’t a one way street and shouldn’t be). The discussion was proceeding along well and we narrowed the projects down to two. All of the projects are very different, so it’s possible to work on any two simultaneously. But I threw a wrench in the works. For one of the very few times in my writing life, I wanted to work on one project at a time.
For many years, I’ve worked four projects at once. One might be in prewriting development, another in plotting, a third in writing actual pages, and a fourth further along in writing pages—either deep into the novel or into the second draft.
Well, I have multiple projects going that are in advanced stages, but I don’t want to do those books right now for strategic reasons. And right now, my focus is on output. That means creating multiple finished projects in minimum time. Still doing the best work I’m capable of doing, but condensing the time span between start and finish.
Is it an experiment? Bluntly put, yes. I haven’t worked this way in a long time and I want to see if my personal production is better or worse than it was and there’s only one way to know that for fact and that is to do it.
The problem was, of these two projects, both were fighting hard to be first. I’d get threads on one, then on the other. I’d try to focus on one and thoughts on the other would intrude.
So my wise counselor and I developed a strategy for handling that. I have two folders on my desktop, but only one manuscript document. So anything that comes up on either project gets put in its folder, but the manuscript document on the one project is the only one I open.
Now this might seem strange to some, but writers know that diffusion of focus is one of our greatest challenges. We are curious, we are open to ideas and we must be. But if we allow the bombardment of ideas to go unchecked, then we suffer diffusion, and that means everything gets a little focus and nothing gets our intense focus, which is what we need to produce our best work.
That’s not my rule. It’s just the way this works. That’s been proven to me over and again during the last twenty-five years. So it’s not just an off-the-cuff comment. More writers produce less because they don’t discipline their thoughts and guard their minds to enable themselves to intensely focus. It’s just a fact.
So if we have to play games with ourselves, or devise rules or methods to make ourselves more productive, then that’s what we do. To those writers who don’t care about production or strategy, it’s not an issue. But for those of us who do care, we find ways to work with and around ourselves to accomplish what we want to accomplish.
I settled the which-project argument in my head—with gratitude and acknowledgement to my wise counselor. Sometimes talking through these things makes your path clear. And today I begin a new writing blast.
I’ll keep you posted on progress. I’m doing the first book in a new series of heartwarming holiday stories first. When it’s done, I’m going to write the first in a new thriller series. I’m excited. I’ve got a plan and it’s one that makes me itch to get to the computer. Can’t beat that in my book. J
I won’t be blogging as much on other subjects right now. The nature of a writing blast is to write fast, hard, and a lot. I also won’t be spending a lot of time on non-urgent emails in the Writers’ Zone project (so if your message IS urgent be sure that goes in the subject line). I will check in on Christians Read, FB, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari, Linked In, Pinterest, and the others at least once every other day. Your messages are ALWAYS welcome but please be patient with me during this experiment.
I’ll post updates so you can track progress with me. Maybe we’ll both come across something that will be helpful on the production front.
Wish me luck!
The Writing Blast starts now!