Saturday 21 April 2012

Writing Tips: Concentrate

If you're a writer, and you're like me, you make up stories. A lot. It's what I spend most of my free time doing, as well as a reasonable amount of time that's not exactly free, but I'm bored and struggling to concentrate on what I'm actually doing, and all the time - often upwards of an hour, same again if I wake up in the night - between going to bed and finally getting my insomniac self to sleep.

The net result of this is a head full of stories. Now, the majority of them are my own, personal stories. But a not insignificant number develop into full-blown Novels I Plan To Write. Currently I have six, at least two of which will probably be series, that I seriously, definitely intend to write, and a handful more that I might at some point.

And I'm only allowed to work on one of them for the next three years.

Because that's the thing: you have to focus, and concentrate on one piece of work at a time.
Otherwise, if you do a little of one and a little of another, as and when you feel like them, then at best, you'll spend years and years working on them, and then have a dozen finished at once.
And that's probably what you want. Doing the promotion and marketing as well as all the technical stuff for one book sounds pretty daunting, and even if you could handle all that it sounds like a much better idea to have a steady trickle of books coming out to publish like a shaken ketchup bottle.

But that's at best. I really do think you need to concentrate on one major project at a time to get it finished at all. I know all about wasting time and not getting anywhere with my writing; I did it for years, and the least progress of all, even sum total progress, was made when I just opened whichever file I felt like working on today.

So I'm refusing to work on any novel besides the one about the vampires (as yet untitled. How do people think of titles?) until that's finished. Or rather, until they're finished: it's - I think - going to be a trilogy, so at a rough estimate that's about three years before I can let myself put anything on paper for any of the others. Maybe two and a half, with a following wind, since I'm a good way through the first draft of the first one.

It's not easy. I recently allowed myself a short story (you can find it at the top of the page, if you like), which is part of the world of one of the Novels I Plan To Write: now I keep thinking of the characters and I want to write about them. And I even more recently read The Sword of Senack which reminded me ever so strongly of a sci-fi future universe I have, which I intend to write about, most likely in several novels, and now I want to write that one too, and the sole thing stopping me from doing so is willpower.

But it's worth it. It's so, so worth it, because as long as I keep concentrating, and keep up the willpower, I have a fighting chance of making it as an author. So concentrate.

On a somewhat related note, they do say that you should also pick one genre to concentrate your efforts on.  'They' are people who seem to know what they're talking about, so I'm sure they're right, but I'm trying not to think about that, because the Novels I Plan To Write range from vampires - but scientific vampires - to a brave stab at the supernatural, to historical fiction, to the aforementioned sci-fi.
I have a faint hope that vampires, being traditionally in the realms of the supernatural, will lead on to that one, the sci-fi element will lead on to that one, and the fact that half of it is set in Ancient Greece will lead on to the historical ones, but basically my plan is to put it out of my mind and cross that bridge when I come to it. I would advise you all to at least try and focus on one genre, though.

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