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FITS AND STARTS

January 12, 2022

            A common question that comes up on the forums on Facebook is how often do you write, what are your writing habits, bla bla bla.

            As a writer, especially one that is somewhat proficient, we all have a pattern we usually go by that gives us results.

            When someone new to this asks, probably because they’re floundering, or are just curious to compare their output to the average, it’s something that may or may not be good to know.

COMPARING TO OTHERS

            Keep in mind that we’re all individuals, and success doesn’t sit with a single formula.

            Over the decades, I’ve heard it said many times that the only way to get anywhere is to sit down and write. While that’s true, the how of that may vary greatly between individuals.

            The most widespread piece of advice out there is “write every day.”

WRITE EVERY DAY

            Do you do this?

            What does that mean?

            Many assume it means to write on your major story or manuscript every day.

            For others, it means any and everything.

            For me, it means that I do what I do. I DO write every day. It’s just not necessarily on my current WIP, or Work In Progress.

            Then again, everything I write is a work in progress.

            Therefore, let’s just say the WIP is my current NOVEL in progress.

            However, just because I may not work on my WIP every day, that doesn’t mean I’m not writing every day, or to be more succinct, honing my chops. Or, to be even more direct, doing what I love to do which is write.

            Confused?

            What does honing my chops consist of?

            E-mails, reviews, short stories, or whatever I feel like writing about. It MAY be working on my WIP it may not.

INTENTIONS

            I have a feeling that the intentions of many of the people inquiring on the forums are specifically talking about their WIPs, and not even considering their peripheral writing. To them, they don’t consider anything else as either practice, or productive writing. It’s all throwaway. The only thing that counts is their WIP, which is their bread and butter.

            I’m assuming a lot and could be wrong, but after all, they’re trying to write and complete the next great novel, and that’s why they’re asking the question in the first place.

            They may just be starting out and are floundering.

            They may have reached an impasse and need a prompt to continue.

            Assumptions.

FITS AND STARTS

            I’ll be the first to admit that lately, my writing has been coming in fits and starts. I had not long ago resurrected the very first novel I ever wrote and decided to edit it. Why? It wasn’t as bad as I first thought. I’m about halfway through it now.

            My publisher wanted the third book in my Gold series, so I stopped editing that first MS and concentrated on this one to get it ready to turn in.

            I was already in the first third of working on book number four of my fantasy series. However, the publisher decided to go with the Gold series for the time being so I set that one aside. I already have A (of course) down and know B, so when I get back to it, no problem.

            In the meantime, I came up with a new idea for an icky bug that I just couldn’t let go. After I got book number three of the Gold series turned it, I pondered this new icky bug for about a month before I ever started writing it. I had to work the logic along with a solid A and B in my head.

            I finally wrote the first chapter, let it sit for a couple of weeks, then started in earnest as I did double duty burning vinyl albums to my computer so I can then burn them to CDs. Since I have to monitor the recording, I need to sit at the computer so might as well keep productively occupied.

            So far, I’ve done three sessions on three weekends.

            Fits and starts.

            This isn’t my normal writing method.

            Why am I doing this?

WHY THIS METHOD?

            I’d never recommend what I’m doing to a new writer. For me, it’s okay because I know what I’m doing and while going against all the advice I usually give to a new writer, I’m doing it my way because I have plenty in the pipeline to cover for me for a long time.

            I can afford to take my time.

            As a new writer with NO books under your belt, you should not do this because you’ll never get anything done!

            I know I’ll get it dun didded because I have the time, the creativity, the passion, and the motivation. My circumstances are just different at the moment.

            I have a lot on my plate with life and I don’t have the pressure or the burning desire to get that first novel published. I can afford to take my time.

            You, as a new writer, don’t have that same luxury, unless you just don’t care.

            If you just write for the love of it, for the passion, then press on and write in fits and starts. Maybe some day you’ll actually finish something.

            Of the three projects I’m working on at the moment, the first one is already done, just not fully edited. The second, the fourth book in the series, is a third done, just on the back burner with the third book is done and waiting to be picked up. The third project, is turned in and waiting on the publisher. The fourth, is fresh and my current WIP. I’m taking my time with it because what I didn’t say before is that I’ve already turned in another icky bug and am waiting to hear on it, plus I have a second completed one waiting in the wings. I have no reason to rush it.

            I can afford to work in fits and starts.

SUMMARY

            I don’t recommend working in fits and starts unless your circumstances warrant it. If you have a stock of completed MSs lying around, like I do, well, that’s different.

            However…and this is a big however, if you’re writing your first novel, a more steady workflow is highly recommended or you may never get it done, not to mention continuity errors.

            I don’t have an issue with continuity, and it’s never been a problem because I write so linear. That may not be your case.

            Happy writing!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathy Murray-Gin permalink
    January 15, 2022 5:02 pm

    Such good information Fred. Just what I needed to hear today to make a decision on redirecting the direction my writing was headed.

    • January 16, 2022 1:42 pm

      Kathy,

      Thanks so much for the kind words! I wish you the best with your direction, wherever it takes you!

      Fred

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