Sketchbook #43

May has taught me that I really do need to build a better system for managing my writing projects.

It started off well enough—I had finished drafts of both The Black Sun and Violet Lane, vague plans for my next project (very tentatively titled These Modern Things), and I was excited to move forward. And then… not much happened.

May wasn’t awful. I’ve been brainstorming the new story and figuring out what I need to do with Violet Lane, and I’m waiting to hear from readers of The Black Sun. I’ve been beta reading a story for a friend. So it’s not like I haven’t done anything this month but… it kind of feels like it.

I keep feeling like the month would’ve gone better if I already had an outline for These Modern Things ready—if I was able to start writing that as soon as I set Violet Lane aside. That is my ultimate goal: I want to get to a place where I’m (almost) always doing prep work on one project, writing another, and editing or revising a third. But then I wonder if it’s a concept that translates from screenwriting to novel writing (I first read about it on Go Into the Story), or if it’s possible without a massive overhaul to the writing habits I’ve built.

At the very least, I need to get better at managing these in-between times. Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten pretty good at motivating myself to do the actual writing part, and I’m getting better at revision, but finding that same focus when I’m breaking a story or outlining… I haven’t figured that out yet.

Of course, this was also the month when I stalled on my photo-a-day project, so… I don’t know. Maybe it was just a bad month for me?

Anyway. To try to get myself moving again, I’m giving myself some deadlines: I’m going to start writing the next draft of Violet Lane next week (whether I’m ready or not), and I’m aiming to have it finished by the end of September. I want to have the first draft of These Modern Things done by the middle of December.

And I’m back on track with my photo project. (Still behind on looking at other people’s photos on Instagram, but getting there.)

In around all this, I’ve been thinking about that goal to find a creative hobby that isn’t writing or photography… and wondering if I’m looking at it from the wrong angle. Because despite feeling a bit directionless all month, I’m also feeling incredibly inspired. I want to be writing. I want to be taking photos. There are stories I want to tell. And those other creative outlets I’ve been playing with… they’re ok, but none of them hold my attention for very long. (Except for sewing, but I’ve already talked about that.)

I’m starting to think that I don’t need a separate hobby so much as I need side projects: writing and photographic projects that are just for me, or just for fun. Projects that are different enough from the other things I’m working on to still feel like a break and that also exercise different ‘muscles.’ (Hey, it might even help me deal with these in-between times a little better.)

I’m going to think about it a little over the next month. Maybe I’ll have some answers by the end of June.