I feel like every time I post, I’m talking about a new project. And, what’s more, I tend to be very stingy with details. And sometimes the names change. For instance, for awhile I was talking about my MG novel, and then I started talking about Everyone Hates You. Probably many people had no idea that they were the same.
On the other hand, when I read other author’s blogs, I rarely pay attention to what they’re working on, unless they’re working on the same thing for years and years. For instance, Kameron Hurley seems to have a zillion books under contract right now. I can hardly keep track of them all.
For me, it’s mostly that I am constantly switching back and forth between things, waiting for something to reach escape velocity. Like I said, I’ve been having a terrible time writing novels lately. And it’s no good to tell me to just plough through–that only results in me getting 40 or 50k in before losing steam.
Lately I’ve tried the opposite. Right now I’m working on a book where I’ve completely plotted out everything–every character and every scene–in an excel spreadsheet. It’s exactly the sort of thing that I’d avoided doing before, because I feared I’d lose out on the spontaneity. But being spontaneous hasn’t gotten me anything but a lot of wasted words, so I’ve decided to try to give up on being cute.
Having an outline is, in some ways, pretty great. You can see (or at least I can) exactly where peoples’ attention will flag and where you don’t have enough tension. This is a book I’ve been working on (off and on) for a year, which means I already know lots about the characters and such, so it lacks that feeling of thinness that sometimes plagues me when I write too good of an outline. But I don’t know. You still leave out some major stuff!
For instance, I was writing the book and I was like, wait a second…why is this important? Why does the main character want this? I’d left out the entire motivation. Of course, when I went looking in the outline, I saw the gaps–oh, right, these five chapters are where the character acts illogically because in this outline she’s missing a motivation. However I didn’t notice that gap until I actually started writing.
Now I think I’ve gone through and found the motivation, but I don’t know. No outline survives contact with the writing process, obviously. We’ll see. The nice thing about this process is that it’s not terrifying. You always know what to do. Of course that lack of terror is a bit terrifying, because isn’t the terror what spurs creation?