As some of you may know, I’m working on polishing up a novel with my agent. Before I had gotten to this point, there had always been the, seemingly eternal, question:
What do I work on, when I’m not working on THE BOOK?
Do I start writing book 2?
Do I start working on something different?
There are a lot of arguments for both. Does it make sense to work on book 2 when book 1 hasn’t sold yet? But what if book 1 sells and they’re interested in book 2 and I’ve got nothing to show them? But what if they’re not interested in book 1, but they like my writing and ask what else I’ve got and I’ve got nothing to show them?
You could go round and round on this for days and not get anywhere.
The answer for me*, as is the case for so many things, was to work on a little of both.
I knew that the story was going to go beyond one book, so here’s what I ended up doing:
I wrote an outline** for book #2 and then I wrote a skeletal outline for book # 3. None of which is set in stone but, despite the likelihood that I’m going to stray from the outline, having one in hand is important.
Once I had those done, I set them aside and started working on something completely new.
When the next round of notes came back, I put the new shiny away and got to work on the revision notes. Once I was done, I jumped back to the new story.
There may be some of you out there that are flinching as you read this. Jumping from one project to the next? What kind of crazy-talk is that?
You might be thinking that it can’t be done. Or, rather, that it’s not something that you could ever see yourself doing.
Let me put some perspective out there for you.
I am a *Very* linear writer. When I get going, I start at the beginning, work my way through the middle, and finish up with the end. Every scene in order.
I am so linear, I can’t even bring myself to leave a note to “Leave something cool here” or “Research this later.” Even a simple “Need a name for this character” is beyond me. If I need a name, I am stopped until I have a name, then I can pick up again.
Switching back and forth between projects was something that I’d never done before. I’d never had to do it before.
So, not knowing what was impossible, I jumped in and did it anyway.
And it worked.
Believe me, nobody is more shocked than I am, that I’m not finding it difficult to project hop.
And I’m not doing any mysterious, arcane rituals to prep myself beforehand.
I wake up knowing what I’ve got to work on that morning, and I get to it.
Which, I suppose, is the whole point.
Get up, know what you’ve got to do, and go do it.
Time: 10:10 am-ish
Music: AC\DC – Highway to Hell
*I talked this very question over with my agent, and this is what we worked out between us. Your mileage, may vary. Remember: there’s no “Right” way to do this, outside of getting it done.
**Yes, I said “Outline.” Like it or not, this is something that you’re going to have to learn how to do. Editors and publishers will want to see one, especially if you’re trying to sell a multi-book story…even if you’ve already written the books.