Writing on Wednesday: Idea Whiplash


First, let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that it’s only been a few days since my last post instead of months. Go me! Okay, now on to the point of today’s ramble. (Yes, the shark is absolutely relevant.)

Ever had lots of ideas, but next to no time to write them? That would be the frustrating state I’ve been stuck at since my son was born. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little guy more than anything, but he has made writing a hit and miss activity at best.

The other day, as I once again failed to complete my Camp Nanowrimo objective, I realized I haven’t finished anything besides a couple short stories and flash fiction in well over three years. That’s a long dry spell for someone as driven as me (obsessive may be a better word). The dry spell doesn’t come from a lack of ideas. I feel rather like that shark as the ideas zip around me, waiting to be written, but I can’t pin down one of them let alone more.

I have notebooks full of rambles about the ideas I’ve started to flesh out. I have multiple scenes written for almost every idea. But a completed draft, even a horrible one, has become like Captain Ahab’s white whale. Elusive. Taunting. Haunting my dreams.

The biggest road block I run into is the research and worldbuilding phase. I figure out my characters’ backstories. I doodle maps that look like a deranged child drew them. I outline galore. Then comes the largest hurdle of all, sitting down and trying to get all the pieces to fit together and researching where I have gaping knowledge holes.

I reserve stacks of books at the library that then sit on my desk, untouched. My noble intentions go out the window when the toddler stops taking his naps, starts getting up way earlier, and fighting bedtime. Or even without his help, life’s messiness happens and happens some more. Also, I’m told to write every day, but if I write every day I don’t have time to research and organize my thoughts.

Then an epiphany came amidst this sea of desperation and flitting fish. Set aside writing time and break down project steps by months rather than days. Yes, I realize it took years to realize something so simple, but sleep-deprived mom’s brains take twice as long to function as most adults.

Anyhow, I realize I couldn’t write every day if I wanted to ever finish a draft. So I now set aside three hours a (late) night as work time. I realized that most of my books since I can’t write simple and must make things ridiculously hard on myself will take about six months, or longer, to research, outline, and draft.

Breaking it down further looks something like this:

Three to five months of solid research.

A month to organize thoughts, map out the world, and flesh out characters.

A month or two to draft since I like to sit down and pound out a rough draft quickly.

Editing is a whole different beast I don’t dare even contemplate at this point, but that will be the longest step and will happen while I’m working on the other steps for a new project. Or the other steps will be worked in as I delve into more research and revisions.

At that rate, barring anything cataclysmic, I can finish one to two messy drafts a year. Which means I may have something worth publishing by the time I’m forty. But, hey, progress is progress.

So, that’s my goal for the rest of the year. Research ONE book, plan and outline said book, and draft that same book to avoid getting further whiplash from trying to follow all the ideas down the rabbit hole.  I may jumble up the steps depending on what the project needs, but all the steps will get done.

I’m excited to see how it goes.

How is your writing progress? What has helped you finish a draft recently? Do you work on one project at a time or multiple?

Keep writing!








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