It was a strange discovery to find that I actually feel much better psychologically when I am actively working on a new novel. This realization resulted from the first week or so of Camp NaNoWriMo, for which I have begun the first draft of a brand-spankin’ new novel.
This caused a certain amount of introspection on my part. It can be difficult to get up in the morning to edit, at least for me. My inner editor does not give a shit roundabout five AM. so the best I’ve been able to do with my morning writing time while editing Ghost is type up edits made by hand and any new scenes that have been added. Which, while necessary, is not a super productive use of that time.
I think the problem that I run into is twofold:
- My editing process occurs almost entirely in hardcopy. I don’t like editing in a word processor, regardless of how awesome said word processor is. Maybe it’s because my brain thinks of computer time as drafting time and pulped-tree-and-pen-time as editing time, so different gears are in motion in those circumstances. Regardless, my morning writing time is traditionally spent at the computer, which means there’s a fundamental incompatibility at play.
- As mentioned earlier, my inner editor sleeps in. It does not like to get up before, like, eleven AM. This makes mornings great for drafting and outlining but considerably less ideal for editing, which by its very nature requires my inner editor to show up and do its damn job.
With the advent of July and Camp NaNoWriMo, though, I came to the pleasant realization that hey, maybe what I need is to have two projects running simultaneously. One where I’m drafting or outlining (things that can be done while my inner editor is still tucked in, cuddling a forty of malt liquor like a teddy bear) and another where I’m editing and revising (which can occur at lunch when my inner editor is conscious and still relatively sober).
So, because I have the proportionate focus, memory, and strength of a decapitated chicken, I determined that I needed to have some kind of schedule to bring a sense of order and continuity to my writing life. To manage this, I turned to LifeRPG, which I mentioned a while back as a tool that I use to hold myself accountable to my writing habit (and otherwise order my life—see earlier assertion regarding focus and memory).
So, without further ado, here is what my lineup for the next few months looks like:
This is what’s up currently. Project one is hashing out the beginning of The Black Lens, which is the full-on rewrite of a little something you may remember me discussing from a couple years back called The Black Hat Initiative. The other part is finishing up the first round of editing for The Magician’s Ghost. Both goals are proceeding apace (partly because I sank about four hours of editing time into Ghost on Saturday while on migraine meds).
The fun part of this one is that Lens will be the running undercurrent of all projects from here on out. First drafts are naturally the most time-intensive part of the whole process, primarily because it involves downloading an entire universe into a word processor directly from your brain. So I want to have Lens be a running thing underscoring all the other stuff I’ll have going on in the rest of this post.
Recollections and Other Second Chances is the followup collection to <SHAMELESS PLUG> Love and Other Impossible Things </SHAMELESS PLUG>. It’s another four stories set in the same universe, and I’ve finished the first draft, but obviously they need some polish before I send them out into the world to make something of themselves.
Simultaneously, I’ll be outlining another novel, working title Ronin, which is set in the same universe as The Magician’s Ghost. Ronin is less quaint tea-room mystery, though, and more a magic-fueled mecha gladiators, spaceborne witch-pirates, and wars of succession over planetary kingdoms…adventure…thing.
ANYWAY I finally have a shot at outlining and then writing a jam with giant robots and I’m very excited by this prospect.
This header sounds like the name of a blog post I might write. BUT, it accurately represents the next two projects on the schedule.
After finishing revisions for Recollections but while still outlining Ronin, I’m going to pick up a cluster of short stories that have just been sitting on my hard drive and are in dire need of some sweet, sweet editorial lovin’.
You’re probably curious about the slightly redundant description. It’s because all these stories are stashed in Novlr under the heading “Short Stories – For Editing” to distinguish them from another category, which is short stories in need of complete rewrites.
THEN, once I finish outlining Ronin but while I’m still editing short stories, I’m going to jump directly into another outline, The Dragon God’s War. This one had an interesting and entirely accidental genesis that started with a conversation about zombie merfolk and then my brain went “yes but what about time travel and also Japanese fairy tales*”, which naturally got me all hot and bothered and then I decided to set it in the same universe as Ghost and Ronin.
* The fairy tale in particular is Urashima Tarō, which I first learned about from the Myths and Legends podcast. If you don’t already, I’d highly recommend tuning in to Myths and Legends. Classic folktales, fairy tales, and myths/legends are literally (sense 2) a gold mine of story fodder.
After that will come the great dragon of the year, to be slain with absurd quantities of words: NaNoWriMo. I deliberately did not double-book November, because I need every scrap of time I’ve got to sweat and bleed 50,000 words in thirty days. Those words will all go toward Lens, in the hope that I will finish it sometime before the end of the year (with the assumption that I’ve also been working on it consistently in the background for the previous five months).
And next up, all on its own in the month of December (though certain to not stay that way), will be the final revision of Recollections and Other Second Chances. This does mean that I’m hoping to be able to release it sometime around the start of the new year—assuming everything goes according to plan.
Best-laid plans of mice and men and writers with an overabundance of self-importance, etc.
So how about you guys? Do you schedule stuff months in advance? Or do you just kinda play it by ear? Or are you one of those wildly talented people who can juggle five projects simultaneously and not wind up with inadvertent crossovers in the process? Let me know in the comments!