Friday, 8 January 2016

Writerly Problems: One WIP is Never Enough


Seems pretty accurate.
Now I like to think I work fairly quickly. I've written roughly 2 and a half books this year, 2 of which are on their way soon, and 1 which may never see the light of day if I can't figure out what to do with it. I'm not a patch on the likes of Stephen King or Brandon (I own all the words)Sanderson, but I'm no slouch.

One of these men is a cyborg sent from the future to use ALL the words.
The problem is I sometimes (like today) look at the work ahead of me, of all that I want to write, and I feel a little lost. There's just too much to do and not enough time, not with gaming addiction and the need to spend at least SOME time with my better half (yes, it's usually in that order and I really hope she's OK with that).

I'm not joking, it's an addiction.

To put things into perspective:
  • I have just finished BEST LAID PLANS (my upcoming piratical duology) and submitted it to the publishers for editing.
  • I have just started to write IT TAKES A THIEF TO START A FIRE (the sequel to IT TAKES A THIEF TO CATCH A SUNRISE).
  • I'm in the planning stages of a project so ambitious it scares me just thinking about it.
  • I have 2 more trilogies set in First Earth to write, which will eventually finish off the project I started about 15 years ago.
  • I have begun world building and plotting for an entirely new trilogy in an entirely new world which I am entirely in love with and can't wait to start writing in.
  • I'm trying to keep up a blogging presence both on my own site and on my publisher's (and anyone else who may want a guest post writing... :D ).
  • I have a bunch of short story ideas swimming around my head and if my next release, THE BOUND FOLIO, does well I'll be forced to get them written down.
  • I have a tax return to fill out.

It's a lot to do... it's a lot to even think about doing. I looking forward to it (most of it), but I am also daunted by it. Just looking at it in list format sends me a little cross-eyed.

I've written 5 full length novels and 1 collection of short stories set in First Earth and I have that much to do again. 11 full length novels in all... 3 trilogies and a duology... and that's not including the trilogy I started and cancelled. Sorry, I'm rambling. But that's what tends to happen when I think about it in one big collection.

I made these! 
I know I'm fairly new to the game and have (hopefully) my whole career ahead of me. I know there's a lot of writers who have a substantial catalogue of dozens upon dozens upon dozens of books. And I know I'm not the first to look at the pile of work I have ahead of me and think “How the crap am I gonna do this?” But this is the first time it's really felt real to me, this task I have set myself.

So what do I do about it? Well my father once said to me something along the lines of:

When you've got a long way to go, don't look at the destination. Look at the path ahead.

And it makes sense. Sure, it's wise to glance up every now and then to make certain you're still headed in the right direction, but if you look down at the path in front of you, the trip doesn't seem nearly as impossible and progress in steps always feels more than progress in miles.

The horizon always looks so far away.
So that's what I'm going to do. I have started IT TAKES A THIEF TO START A FIRE and by the Maker, the Creator, and the Ruiner I am going to finish it. The last thing I want is to leave the poor novel sitting, half-finished, by the roadside while I march on unto the next project. After that? Well after that I'll see where I am, see which story is loudest in my head.

Sequel imminent.
I think this is the way it works best for me. Choose one story and finish it before starting another. One at a time or I become too unfocused and jumbled. Some authors may well be able to write 5 WIPs at once but not me. Too many WIPs spoil the broth.



Rob J. Hayes is the author of the acclaimed The Ties that Bind trilogy. Find out more on his website here.

2 comments:

  1. A long time ago I attended a time management for business course. One of the principles (and yes, I had to look it up to remember which one to use) was that you cannot keep more than 9 subjects on the metaphorical stove without letting one of them slide. In authoring terms, my guess would be that should be 3, or maybe even 2. Your craft is all about imagination and detail. I think you're right to focus on one at a time, and maybe have the next one simmering away in the background. There will be discipline involved... the lure of the dark side is... sorry, wrong thread!

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  2. Us writers truly are a sorry bunch sometimes, aren't we? I'm trying desperately to get some words down for my current WIP (with a very tight deadline!), and all I can think of today is a brand new shiny idea for a new book!

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