I love rules. I love to know what's expected and how things are done. Give me structure! Give me order! *ahem* sorry.
Anyway, these are some of the rules I try to follow in my writing:
1. Don't begin a novel with the main character waking up (this time).
2. Don't begin a novel by asking a rhetorical question.
3. Lose the extra words that clog sentences: that, just, very, feel, so, well, etc
4. Keep adverb/adjective use to a minimum.
5. Finish one first draft before starting another.
Now, #5 is to keep me from getting sidetracked from my current WiP. I've been guilty of this in the past - either because of a plot problem or because, over time, I thought it wasn't good enough. Last November during NaNoWriMo, I had an idea for a YA novel that I was excited about. When I dropped out of the NaNo, I put my 1,000 word draft aside to focus back on Nitpicky with the goal of finishing it this year. I’ve had some ups and downs with this draft (Nitpicky) and right now I’m struggling with a bit of self doubt. Those nagging questions are plaguing me again: Is the conflict big enough? Are my characters too flat? Is this idea original enough?
At the same time, I’ve been getting flashes of ideas for the novel I’ve temporarily named, After. I open up my Word file and quickly type up each new idea before I lose it and then close it again. However, I’ve been tempted to just turn away from Nitpicky and let loose with After. But then I’d have to break one of my rules which is hard for me. Why? Because then I begin judging myself: If I’m a writer, shouldn’t I plough through the tough spots and keep going? Shouldn’t I finish at least one WiP? (started 4, finished 0 – not very good stats) Am I running away from my problems to the new, shiny idea instead of working through the crud?
I guess I’m trying to figure out if I want two projects going on at the same time. After will still be there when Nitipicky is finished. However, my new ideas have been inspired by music this time – a totally new experience for me. I even have the beginnings of a playlist for After which is something I haven’t used in the past. Because I love music so much, I’m fascinated and excited by the ideas that burst through a listen of these songs. I suppose either way the writing practice will be good for me and the stronger of the two novels will prevail. I can always rewrite the other later on if the desire is still there.
I’d love to know if anyone else struggles with this.
Do you work on more than one writing project at a time? Do you find it easy or hard to switch from one novel idea & set of characters to another? How do you keep them separate in your head?