So we’re nearly two weeks into 2015 and I have to say that things are going remarkably well.
The year has started with an incredibly busy 2015 and has only got busier as new opportunities have come my way. Let me say, up front, my aim is NOT to try and take on as much as I can, but just to motor on and get things done.
It’s still early, early days and I’m conscious that I could approach burnout tomorrow (although, I have to be honest and say that I feel like I’m slacking rather than overworking) but it’s going far better than I expected.
If you add up my fiction (ranging from short stories through novellas right through to novels) together with my non-fiction (from blog posts, to articles and a few other non-fiction projects I’m working on), I have around a dozen projects on the go. Some of them are projects I’ve yet to start writing – things I’m still trying to plot out or gather ideas for so that I’m ready to write next month. But some, like the articles, are things that have been conceived and delivered. That means I have projects on the go that are at every stage of the process.
And process is the key word here. I never used to be someone who ‘organised’ their writing. It seemed to go against everything I believed about creativity. But I’d always had a curiosity about how other writers worked and then circumstances meant I had to implement writing processes of my own. And the difference was so noticeable that I’m really, really big on process these days.
I still feel as if I need an editing process as detailed as my writing one and my aim is to end the year with one. But luckily I have no long form fiction projects at that stage currently and my aim is to have a quieter February so I can work on such things.
What’s genuinely impressed me is how well my processes have held up – far better than I ever thought they would. If I stop worrying and just get on with things, my writing process looks after everything else.
After 11 days and counting both fiction and non-fiction I’m weighing in at some 30,000 words written. It’s not any record by any means but this is a year-long marathon not a NaNoWriMo sprint. My foot is not hard on the gas by any means. Listen to me: I’m here apologising for only 30,000 words in 11 days.
Also, on top of those 30,000 words, I’ve also had time to plot out other projects in the schedule, work on a couple of synopses, and edit and submit four or five articles (I’ve lost count now). Yeah, it’s going well.
And that seems to be the biggest problem. Things are going so smoothly that I’ve started to find myself getting stressed… over nothing really. Everything seems to be on schedule, things have been delivered on time, I’m not sat here unable to take a break. For the amount I have on my plate I feel I should be drowning. I should be here getting stressed at the mountain of work.
But my ToDo list is getting ticked off with little getting carried across to the next day, I’m finding time to watch loads of Masterchef Australia, and it’s not a problem for me to say,”I need to work on some story ideas, I’m taking the afternoon off to walk into town”.
So why’s everything going well*? Well I put it down to a combination of four factors
- I’ve got so much to do that I really can’t afford to procrastinate / stress over stuff
- Good process
- Now that I’ve bought the house and settled in, I have few interruptions and can just get on with things.
- Everyone is poor in January so the idea of doing things that don’t cost money is appealing (such as staying in and writing)
My problem has never really been speed (I’ve always been a 1200 – 1600 words per hour person) but consistency. I find it really hard to write every day. Add to that a day job and personal life that makes it impossible to schedule a set time for writing every day and you’d see I’m a sporadic writer (even though I did around 400,000 words last year).
It’s meant I’ve had to be flexible and I’ve had to develop some new writing processes to aid me. The important thing, as I’m now discovering is that these tools are things to be deployed when needed rather than used all the time. Sometimes you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
What’s been particularly nice is that despite the various competing projects, my main project of completeing the behemoth of The Thieving King has naturally taken precedence and of those 30,000 words, more than 20,000 of them have been on the novel. And those have not been an easy 20,000 words given that the novel has been at that stage I always find the most difficult.
Now the real proof will come further down the line. If we come to July and I’m still being half as productive then I’ll be beyond pleased. I suspect I will have slowed down a lot as well. But, as long as my writing projects are getting done then I’ll be happy. Heck I’d be happy if Thieving King was just done (I’m suspecting this draft will come in at close to 200,000 words). As I’ve said this is the year of hard work and so far it’s going well and surprisingly smoothly.
If people are interested, I could do a series of blog posts on my process and how it works. Keep in mind that, every writing process is individual and what works for me, might not work for you. I might wait until next month to do it, not only because there are a lot of pieces to it but also because 11 days in seems a little too soon to be branding it a success.
*at the moment