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Another question

Thanks everyone who answered the question about works-in-progress and the various definitions of what WIP means. After reading all the responses, one in particular seemed to finally allow me to figure out what it was I think these things might have in common.

matociquala said, in response to a question I'd asked, I generally have a number of works in progress, because I find it counterproductive to work straight through on a single project. Generally, I write a few thousand words (between three and ten) of a book, and then stick it aside to ripen while I work on other things. I'm not actually *writing* on multiple books at one time (usually only two, and one of them will take over at some point and push the other one out for a while) but I have a lot of books cooking.

coffeeandink said I also have things I consider in queue but not in progress, because I haven't written any of them, although I may have a sentence or a paragraph in my head. But generally they're unwritten and still accumulating the necessary critical mass.

After thinking about this for a bit, I have a comment, and then a slightly different question.

I need about a year's lead time before I start to break words on a novel. I need it to be sitting in the back of my head, carving out subconscious space in places I haven't begun to consciously think about. I need to think about the things that I can think about, but I realize that I can never completely predict anything with accuracy. I need to let these things settle and sink roots.

But I don't need to do that during writing time. The writing of the novel is a different process; the two aren't the same.

If, however, I start something without the lead-time, I find it much, much harder going. In fact, hard enough that I generally probably acquire a year's worth of lead time in the cracks between the stalling and pauses. I've tried this; it's why I know this about the way I work. My editor knows this and understands it, so between us, we always know which book I'll be writing after I've finished the one that's due.

Keeping this in mind, how many of you can sit down at start writing something right away? How many of you who have many different projects on the go, and who shift between them when one stalls, started those projects without the subconscious lead-in that I have to take? I'm sort of curious because I'm wondering if you're essentially taking that time between multiple projects -- if you're sitting back to let the subconscious work on whichever project has stalled, while moving onto one that has had that backburner time.

Montreal, next post.


Nov. 17th, 2004 09:43 am (UTC)
I just wish I'd known I couldn't write linear-intuitive 14 years ago.

Then, again, the novels would probably be way different too - I have a much better handle on writing overall now than I did then.