Saturday, June 25, 2011

Writing Two Books at Once

In a previous blogpost, I said that I live to write, instead of writing to live. I suppose this is fortunate in that I don't have to churn out stories, articles, or poems on a daily basis to earn my bread. However, it's unfortunate in that writing is not a Top Priority. I don't have to do it, no matter how much I want or like to, and that means it can be shunted to the background in favor of more immediate, pressing activities. Mainly, schoolwork. I know, I know--this means I'm not really a writer, right? Just a college kid with writer pretensions (or, as I prefer to think of it, ambitions. Can I get a cheer for Slytherin?).

But school's out for the summer, and The Book has been chugging along remarkably. I just passed the 200,000-word mark...and was torn between doing a victory dance and killing myself. 200K is acceptable for epic fantasy, since the genre practically demands a multitude of characters, complex plotlines, and paragraphs upon paragraphs of world-building. So I wouldn't be upset with 200K as a finished project, but THE BOOK ISN'T FINISHED. In terms of plot, I still have about a quarter of the way to go, maybe 50-60K words. THAT'S A LOT OF FUCKING WORDS.

As they say in acting, though, it's easier to start big and then pull back. If you don't have the high emotion/lot of fucking words in the first place, you can't dig deeper because you're always struggling to build up. My writing tends toward the flowery (I blame my 10th-grade English teacher for introducing me to Faulkner), and while it's not bad writing, the flowers need pruning before they take over the yard.

First I have to actually finish. Despite my best intentions and summer productivity, writer's block keeps cropping up. Sometimes I'll finish a section and be too mentally exhausted to do anything but edit what I just wrote. Sometimes I need a while to iron out exactly how I want to start a chapter or introduce a character. Either way, there are these dead periods where I don't write anything new...until now. Until I had another IDEA. *bright lights and angels singing*

Many writers scream NO NO WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! to people who work on more than one project at once. Since I started this second one in earnest, I've actually made more progress on BOTH projects than if I'd kept slogging away at just the one. Maybe it's a personality difference--works for some, doesn't for others. I've always been good at multitasking. However, I think the biggest help has been having something to fill the dead spaces. I'm stuck on The Book, so I work on the Other Book until I get stuck there, and then come back to the first problem refreshed and ready to think about something else. It at least gives the illusion of productivity, and I never have an excuse not to write.

In other news, I'm participating in Teen Writer Summer Blogfest (TWSB). Expect the posts to start in July!


  1. I tried writing two projects simultaneously once, but it didn't work out for me. But if you can do it, and remain prolific and passionate with both, then DO IT :)

    And wow, 250K words. Just wow.

  2. I have friends who have half a dozen projects going at the same time. One bounces back and forth between his serial novel (available soon on Kindle!) and screenplays. Crazy opposite worlds of writing. One calls for maximum verbosity, the other for minimum - "get Tolkien to <180 pages!" Other friends of mine churn out fanfic by the trailer load. I mean, dozens of pages a week. If the story is in you, it'll find a way out with perseverence and planning. I'll watch for it!

  3. Hi Laura! Could you send me an e-mail so that I can e-mail you some details about the blogfest? Just send it to brittany (at) hillsandcorkscrews (dot) com

  4. I've wanted to, but I've been scared to as well. I also am pretty good at multi-tasking, as long as I don't get my wires crossed. Maybe I'll try it. Thanks :)

  5. Oh, and I'm your newest follower because you sound like me (wow that sounded egotistical), but I from that that we probably like a lot of the same things lol.

  6. Hello, everyone! Sorry I haven't replied to your great and wonderful and surprisingly numerous comments earlier; I'm on vacation. Glad to see your responses!

    I do know people who write unbelievable amounts of fanfic and short stories; that's never quite been my thing but I admire that they can do that. And Nick, the 200K words thing has happened over a long and sometimes tediously slow 5 years. :P All the same, I'm glad to be there! Whether or not multitasking/multiwriting works for everyone, you should at least give it a shot.

    Again, hello everyone! New followers and fellow writer-bloggers always welcome :)


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