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Author Topic: How do you work?
Member # 9973

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Something I have learned about myself is that I need to have multiple projects going at the same time. I find that if I dedicate myself to a single story, I get bored with it and then I get lazy and eventually I walk away from it unfinished.

However, if I have multiple stories, say a couple of short stories, a novel and maybe a few other things at the edit stage, I stick with them all much better. As I get bored with one, I move on to another. Eventually, I circle back and finish them all. I haven't had any non-finishers since I started working like that.

Anyone else work this way or do you usually dedicate yourself to getting each work finished before starting the next?


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Member # 8501

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I'm sort of the opposite. If I have too many projects going on at once, I lose focus on one or two and those have a higher probability of ending up undone.

I have publishing as a goal, so that keeps me going. (I self-publish).

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Member # 9963

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I have to do one or two at a time as well. I am more of a nanowrimo kind of guy. I faster I go, the better.
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Member # 8019

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I keep all my projects on a burner, simmering, braising, broiling as the case may be. Some I make notes about their inspirations and let them ferment until later when they've had time to develop substance and my skills have developed suitably to realize their full potential. A four-decade writing course stacks up an enormous number of inspirations, trunked narratives, and abysmal failures. A few gems result, though, maybe, eventually, perhaps.

I'm more of a Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary, 1856, ten years from inception to publication) writer than I am a Stephenie Meyer writer, (Twilight, 2005, purportedly three months from inception to submission).

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Member # 5512

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I usually have more than one project on go but I don't like to shift too quickly. Most times, the thought of the other project as a possibility can be enough to get me back at the first one.
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Member # 8547

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I usually do an explosion of writing where I try to avoid all distractions and focus completely on the story. Once that storm of activity peters out then I have to really push to stay on task.

I tried doing multiple stories for this NaNoWriMo, but I just ended up getting about 120 pages done across three projects then swapping to one and finishing it entirely. Instead of moving on to the next one I started writing an entirely new story and am about 120 pages into it.

It's, um, hard to focus an explosion? Can't find traction on a frictionless surface?

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Robert Nowall
Member # 2764

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Well, I'm currently in a phase where I write a rough draft, then let it sit for months before revising it---word for word, retyped, the whole thing, just so I consider every word---then, once that's done, procede to nitpicking revisions.

Meanwhile, while it's sitting, I try to be working on something new.

(Lately it's been kinda quiet, though...in the last month, after completing a rough draft thrown back into the files, I've only written a five-hundred-word start to a new story.)

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Grumpy old guy
Member # 9922

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I need to 'feel' my story in my bones and in my heart. I have the one I am now working on, and about two-thirds the way through; another where I've written about 90K words but am letting it sit in the background while it cooks and another 'idea' that is just 'floating' until I finish my current novel.


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Member # 9916

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I'm a one-project-at-a-time kind of writer. I find it too easy to use other projects as an excuse when I get stuck on a particular piece. 'This is hurting my brain, I think I'll go work on something else.' This is an excellent strategy sometimes. However I've noticed lately that some of my best writing comes when I force myself to muscle through a rough patch rather than taking a break from it. At least when it comes to drafting.
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Member # 9757

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I jump back and forth. After a while my brain gets tired and stalls out. Moving to a new world and a new set of characters re-engages my interest, giving my subconscious time to work on the first story without interference from the cheap seats.
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Member # 7960

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I usually stick to one, and get it written in a burst of energy, and then take my time editing. But right now, I've got a collaboration going, and I'm learning great stuff about myself from it. The other collaborators (well, at least one of them...) is a slow simmerer kind of writer, so I find myself with a lot more time in between my turns than I'm used to. This simmering time is doing amazing things to my ideas. I find myself intricately plotting the chapters the way I would normally plot the book, and it is great. I'm digressing...drat.

I'm also trying to work on something on my own. I find it hard to be enthusiastic about both projects at the same time. I wish I knew how people do it. It's like I can't hold the details of both projects in my brain at the same time.

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Member # 9757

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Some people are synergists by nature, and some are analysts. An analyst breaks things down methodically, piece by piece, one thing at a time. A synergist looks at the whole scrambled mess and tries to perceive the pattern in the chaos. Both approaches work, they just come at the problem from opposite directions.
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Member # 9331

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Well, analytic and, for the want of the better word *inductive* writing are for me two different phases. In the early to middle stages of a piece I can't work on any other piece because it's like the words are getting ripped out of me. I can't stop or shift gears at all until I've got that next scene drafted. I call this phase the induction phase; each scene, practically each line generates the next.

As the piece reaches near rough draft completion there's a shift to what I think of as analytic writing. The words are no longer pouring out; instead I begin focusing on bits that are needed to make logical bridges between parts of the story. This is where writing becomes hard and then later tedious work.

I begin to revise, even before I reach a complete draft, going back to foreshadow what is coming and going forward in the story to repeat motifs and emphasize themes. I don't see this revision as fundamentally different from drafting the new bits needed to reach rough draft, it's all stuff that is logically needed. In this phase I can work on more than one manuscript. In fact it helps relieve some of the tedium.

For me there isn't a "flag day" on which I complete a rough draft. What happens is as analytic writing continues the balance shifts from adding material to deleting it, with unnecessary scenes, narration, and words getting axed. When I can't bear to cut any longer, I call that a presentable-as-its-likely-to-get draft and I start canvassing critique partners.

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