Getting Back on Track
(image courtesy of Vladimir163rus via pixabay.com)
I hope your New Year has started well. I’m trying to ease in this year. So often, we hit the ground running and burn ourselves out in the first two weeks trying to start everything all at once. I’m trying to plan the different things I want to work on this year in a way that gives me time to settle in with one goal or resolution and have it a natural part of my day or week before starting the next.
Because I lost a little over two weeks’ worth of the type of work I could only do on the computer when it was in computer hospital, I’ve been trying to get back on track.
A huge part of that is getting ahead on the serial LEGERDEMAIN. I’d hoped to not only work well ahead on the second big arc, but upload more episodes, work on episode graphics and general graphics, finish the Media Kit, and do a big chunk of work on the website. That did not happen, so I’m piece-meal fitting bits and pieces of it into each workday, while scheduling regular writing sessions on LEGERDEMAIN into each workday. I know where I’m going with it, and don’t want to get behind. Fortunately, I’d uploaded and scheduled episodes and the promotions around those episodes through the first week of 2023. But that meant that last week, I had to upload and schedule and work on promotion before I started writing ahead. I still have enough episodes not to worry. However, if something happens in an as-yet-unwritten episode that I wished I’d set up or foreshadowed in an earlier episode, I have to figure out a different way to handle it, so it fits the logic of the created world.
I got behind on where I wanted to be on the ANGEL HUNT serial, although I have nearly half a year’s worth of episodes prepped (they need a polish and an upload). But I’m still not where I wanted to be.
The primary focus last week was getting back on track where I wanted and needed to be with both of those. I’m excited for ANGEL HUNT’s launch near the end of this month. I had so much fun with the first version of it, and now that I’ve had a chance to apply what I’ve learned about craft and storytelling in the interim years, I feel even better about it.
THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH’s first draft was finished by the end of the year, so that’s all printed out, in a binder and resting (until early March), at least.
The radio plays have to go back into the daily work roster, because I need to get those finished and to the producer sooner rather than later.
I also can’t drop the ball on the promotion for LEGERDEMAIN, the upcoming promotion schedule for the ANGEL HUNT launch, the book review assignments, the script reading assignments, or the contest entries that are coming in for the contest I judge every year.
I want to finish the edits on CAST IRON MURDER, a mystery I first drafted in 2021), and prep the submission materials to I can query it this year. (I have an entire Topic Workbook about SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM, because of course I do. The thing is, I actually USE these techniques on which I write workbooks).
And I’m still doing my longhand noodling in the mornings.
As I’ve mentioned before, ideas tend to come in batches for me. I had five ideas hit me pretty much at the same time.
One was an idea I played with a few years ago, and couldn’t make work, but I got an idea to give it a comic urban fantasy twist, and that seems to be he way to go. I wrote several pages of notes on it (on the yellow pad). The voice of the book is clear to me, and some of the characters are clear. What I’m trying to figure out now is whether or not I want to keep it in one character’s POV or shift POVs. That’s percolating, and not actively in play right now. Every few days, I get some ideas and jot them down, but I’m not at the point of writing my way in yet.
Two ideas came to me for “category” books in a genre I don’t work much in, but where I’d like to stretch. Especially since the expectations for the genre has a lowish word count, around 55-60K. That’s about 60 designated 1K workdays, which is not all that difficult to fit into the schedule without throwing everything else off.
One of the ideas is just the situation (on the yellow pad) and hasn’t gone any further. The other started from the two characters with a passion for the same profession, and has grown into quite a few pages of rough notes, mostly on character, atmosphere, and how I see the early scenes rolling out. It has more humor in it than I expected, which is just fine, but is quickly moving out of the “category” in which I originally envisioned it, and is positioning itself more as a literary mystery with elements of romance, gothic, and humor. There is no way the original market that inspired the idea for this would accept the way it has grown.
I have two choices here: I can let it be what it is and not worry about market until it’s done, or I can cut out all these other elements and keep it to the guidelines of the original target market.
The solid business decision would be the latter, and maybe, at some point, that’s what I’ll do. But right now, there’s something in the way it’s growing and changing that I really like, and I want to let it grow more organically. I need to trust the characters to lead me where the book needs to be, at least in this stage. I am, however, hitting the point where I need to actually write a few chapters.
The fourth idea is a standalone, rather than anything connected to a series. I have notes on the tropes I want to use and how I want to twist them. That’s percolating on a burner beyond even the first idea mentioned, and I doubt I’ll get to noodling with it anytime soon. If I do, it makes sense to do it for Nano this year. Only I promised myself that this year, I’d skip Nano. (Famous last words).
The fifth idea was the one I originally thought would be furthest on the back burner, but it’s pushed itself forward. I thought it would be a pretty straightforward mystery, but it’s opened out into exploring themes of how expectations and rumors and frames of reference affect interactions, and less of a genre specific piece. I’ve written my way in for a few chapters, and need to start typing. Normally, at this point, I would type up the chapters and sit down to create the Writer’s Rough outline. However, with this particular piece, I have the strong urge to work with the blank page. I know certain points I want to hit and themes to explore, but I don’t yet want the structure provided by an outline.
A reaction, no doubt, to the need for outlines that I have on other projects.
This noodling happens early in the morning, after I write in my journal, but before I sit down at the computer to officially start my workday. Sometimes it also happens late at night, after I’ve finished the writing, the client work, and any other work-related reading (or even pleasure reading).
Last week focused on LEGERDEMAIN, ANGEL HUNT, easing time back into the schedule for radio plays, and getting back into client work. But I still made time to noodle on these other projects. I expect this week will be quite similar. By next week, I have to revisit and complete an outline on a novel that needs to get on the drafting schedule, and slowly add it into the main schedule, and block off time to finish the revision of CAST IRON MURDER.
Then, of course, out of the blue, another idea came pouring out as a screenplay. I wrote 36 pages in the first 24 hours, and have beeen working on it intermittently since. I write a section in my head, I sit down and write a few pages. I started a subplot that’s proving to be too much of a tangent, so it will have to be cut in the next draft. Right now, even though I know it will run long, I’m going with it for this initial draft. I will then cut and shape for format and genre in the next few rounds.
As I mentioned above, I’m trying to ease in, rather than fling myself off the work cliff and burn myself out before February. The process shift in here is to leave room for the noodling, which allows me unpressured creativity, and also ease the projects that need attention into the schedule without overbooking myself and burning out.
I have no idea if it will work, but it’s worth a try.
How are you keeping your projects on track this year? What adjustments have you made on how you did so in the past?