(Whoops. This post was supposed to go live before the previous one. Small technical error.)
For once my silence in this blog has not been because I’m having troubles, but because things are going super well. I’ve started a new project that is part of a new approach to how I’m doing things, going forward, and this change has already been very rewarding.
After literally months of barely being able to write any fiction at all, I have written some 30,000 words of fiction. 6,000 of those words were basically failed branches of the experiment, leaving 24,000 words of good, usable text. All one story.
And the week is not over.
You all know I’ve spent a lot of time over the years figuring out how creativity works for me, how productivity works, trying to figure out how to get that kind of lightning into a bottle I can uncork whenever I need it, while also being aware that it’s never going to be as easy as flipping a switch or tapping a faucet. The key is embracing what works and dumping what doesn’t.
My interests are varied. I like to have a lot of irons in the fire. The problem is, I work best when I can throw myself into something wholeheartedly, but trying to manage different projects, I wind up never gaining any steam on any one of them. Whether I’m doing different things on different days or trying to block off different parts of individual days, I just lose a lot of momentum switching directions.
On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes I get hyperfocused on one thing and ignore everything else until I burn out on that one thing, and nothing really comes of it, either.
So here’s my attempt at a balanced approach, in the shallows of 2017: taking each thing one week at a time.
This week I have been working on a new project. I have written 30,000 words total for it. The first day I wrote almost 12,000 words, 8,000 of which I’ve kept. Each subsequent day I’ve written several thousand words more, while also doing some light editing on the previous day’s work to make the emerging story more coherent.
It’s not just that I’m throwing myself into a single project at a time that’s created this level of productivity. There are a few other things I’m doing differently. I wrote a sort of character guide for this project that ended up also serving as a rough outline for how the story unfolds. It’s something I should really do more often. I think of myself as not being an outliner, but when I write character and setting guides it ends up both sparking my imagination and giving me a more solid grasp of what the story needs to do and how I can do it.
The project I’m working on for this week is workingly entitled The Secret Sisterhood of Superheroes. It is my return to superhero fiction and to the universe of the Star Harbor stories. I’m not re-using the title “Star Harbor Nights”, which kind of centers the story around a single city. The story is set a good ten years on from (a potentially slightly cosmically retconned) version of the previous tales in the universe and mostly focuses on a new group of characters. There are touchstones to the older stories, though they’re by no means required reading.
I’m not yet sure of how I’m going to publish the stories, though it will be serialized. The question is just “where” and “how often”. The “mass writing” approach I’m taking allows for better editing and a more coherent story, though it’s going to have the same sprawling quality that defines my style. The story so far has been focused pretty strongly on a single character (J.J. Masterson, aka Labrys), but it’s an ensemble/mosaic story.
Next week is a family holiday gathering. I’m not sure what I’m going to do for the week after, but during my away time I’m going to be revisiting my other stories/projects and weighing which ones to give this treatment to in the weeks following.
I’m not going to have a solid docket of stories that I cycle between each month, because not all my projects are or will be serials and if I’m not following where the muse moves me to an extent, the whole thing is likely to break down. This is part of the point: being able to shift gears when I run out of inspiration.
Part of the approach is about focusing my energy on one thing at a time, and not regretting what I’m not doing. If I can get somewhere doing a thing with a focused week of activity, I’ll keep coming back to it periodically. If I can’t, then I will probably drop it and let it stay dropped. When it’s not the week of something, I’m not going to sweat the fact that it’s not getting done.
So, these are going to be some exciting times. I’m not likely to post any new fiction in the first half of January, but after that? Buckle up. New life might be breathed into flagging things. Long-dormant favorite stories might be coming back. Entirely new things may well be afoot.
Going to make a quick overview post about Secret Sisterhood of Superheroes immediately following this.