A Change in Plans

A quick note before I get into today’s post. The series on formatting will continue next week. I want a little more time working with some of the programs I’m going to discuss before blogging about them. Sorry for the delay but I wanted to be comfortable with the programs before not only reviewing them but, in at least one instance, recommending them.

As for today, well, the title says it all.

Last week, I released Nocturnal Rebellion. It is the fifth book in the Nocturnal Lives series and the sixth title overall. This was the first series I started and Nocturnal Origins was the second book I published. To say this series and its characters have held a special place in my writer’s heart is to put it mildly. Because of that, I expected a few days, maybe more, of mourning after Rebellion’s release. Why? Because Rebellion brings an end to the current story arc and I’m not sure where the story will go from there — or when the next installment will happen.

Okay, that’s not quite right. I have a glimmer of a spark of an idea about where to go next but that’s it. Knowing Mac and company won’t be part of my regular writing schedule for a while is, well, odd.

Normally, I take a week or so away from writing after a book release to do some promotion and to simply get my head cleared of that book and ready for the next project. That’s when I try to catch up on my reading, reorganize my office — okay, cleaning it and getting it ready for whatever I’m about to start writing — sleeping and gaming. It is also when I catch up on those projects around the house that I put on hold while I got the last book ready for press.

This time, however, it didn’t happen like that. I took a day. A single day. Then I dug into my office, clearing away all the notes and research used during Rebellion’s writing. Once that was accomplished, I sat down and over the course of the next two days, made notes on the projects that have been floating around in my mind, those I knew I needed to get done in the next six months or so as well as others that, it seemed, had been lurking just below the surface until I finished Rebellion.

By the time I was finished, I had notes on 12 separate titles. 12. What the bleep?!? Fortunately for my sanity, not all of them are novels. More fortunately, some were for titles I’d already planned and, in a couple of occasions, are projects I’ve already gotten very rough drafts completed for — the next in the Honor and Duty series as well as the next in the Sword of the Gods series. What I hadn’t expected doing this were the several standalone titles that cropped up or the additional titles I hadn’t planned in the Eerie Side of the Tracks, including a novel that hit me out of nowhere but that I’m very excited to write.

So what’s the change, you ask.

First, and least important, is the fact I sat down and actually made notes on more than the current work in progress. I very rarely do that. While I’m not a pantser, I most definitely am not a plotter either. I’ve always fallen somewhere in-between. Whether this indicates a change in my process or not, I don’t know. I’ll admit, the prospect of my process changing is a bit scary. But it’s happened before and I adapted. I’ll do so again.

The second change is in the publishing schedule. Again, it’s no biggie. That is the joy of being an indie. I can shuffle my schedule as needed. But, in this case, there is no shuffling needed. I simply added more titles to it. In a way, that’s reassuring. It is also daunting because it means I can’t goof off and say “I don’t know what to write”. And yes, there was a teen-like whine with that quote.

The change is the obvious one. For the first time in more than five years, I don’t have a story with Mac in the hopper. Part of me mourns that. But it was time for this particular story arc to come to an end. Yet, even as I write this post, I know Myrtle the Evil Muse is thinking about what to do with our band of heroes next. She’s already teased (okay, tormented) me with a scene with a panicked Mac discovering she’s pregnant and wondering the best way to potty train the baby of two people who shift into jaguars. Do you buy stock in diapers or kitty litter? Do you buy teething rings or scratching posts?

You see why I call my muse evil?

Crap!

Even as I sit here typing in this post, I hear Myrtle cackling madly. It’s not enough that she inflicted me with a book that wants to be written NOW! I feel a new series coming on. In case you’re wondering, it’s a bit like feeling a headache coming on. Why? Because Myrtle isn’t subtle. She comes racing in with her combat boots and bullhorn.

Seriously, the change I refer to in the title is more of a mental change than anything else. I noticed something as I wrote my last couple of books. I was allowing myself to be distracted by the internet, by gaming, etc. I know the reasons why but knowing them doesn’t always mean I do anything about them. So, I made the decision to change one very basic and yet important part of my writing. I have switched machines. My PC laptop no longer is my work machine. I’ll still use it for a couple of post-edit functions because it has a larger screen and some of the programs I use after I finish a manuscript. But the actual writing now happens on the MacBook Air. So far, it has been a very positive change. It is as though my subconscious understand that when I’m on the Mac, it is “work”. the PC is “play”. We’ll see how long that lasts.

I’m not recommending everyone go out and buy a laptop or desktop that is a totally different OS from what you have now. What I do recommend is that you review how you write and be honest with yourself about whether you are allowing yourself to become distracted too easily. I know authors who have machines without internet connectivity that they use to write on. Others don’t put games or social media apps on their work machines. I finally am starting to understand why.

The other thing I’ve done is blocked off several hours in the morning and then in the afternoon where I don’t go online. I don’t check email and I don’t go to Facebook or similar sites. This is “work” time. That has helped as well.

In other words, I am practicing what I preach — I am treating my writing like my business. I’m still looking at ways to get better, both with time management and with promotion. Boy do I need to get better at promotion. How about you? What can you do to improve your productivity? What techniques are you using that seem to help?

6 Comments

Filed under AMANDA, WRITING: CRAFT, WRITING: LIFE

6 responses to “A Change in Plans

  1. paladin3001

    I need to get organized better. Actually, I need a whole bunch of things to happen. Until then, I will muddle along the best I can.

  2. I like having Internet available; it helps me keep going when I hit little things I hadn’t expected to need to know (was there a Babylonian god of dreams?). Mostly I just pick up my laptop and move into the book-lined room we call the Library. Being there with the laptop seems to work as a cue for me that I’m there to write, and it gets me out of the traffic flow in the house.

  3. Second Attempt:

    I’m ashamed to say I have none. It just happens, which means it’s unscheduled bursts. That’s not good, production-wise. Then there are the typos. Oh the typos. It’s like there’s a stream of thought and I can’t keep up with it. And now, after about 40,000 words, I’m having to force myself to stop and regroup. Did I mention I’ve already written the last three chapters? No? It’s a monumental bother, hopping around, but it seems like when I definite start and conclusion, other things fall into place. Shrug. The gist is I have to rearrange and rewrite a chapter to make the days fit with the terrain (yes, I have a scale map drawn), and the issue of the phase of the moon came up. At least got a blog post in the can for tomorrow out of that.

    The bad thing is when I try to think about it, to have just a wee bit of planning, scenes and a plot for another book in his series pops into my head. It’s like my muse has binged on espresso. The worst thing is that this is the second book of a series, and I haven’t completed the first. OTOH, I now see where the first one needs to go.

    I definitely wouldn’t want to work without an internet connection. I’m all the time having to do a quick check on some odd point.

    There’s no good way for me to work. It’s constant interruption, mostly the cat keeping me on schedule, or thinking I’ve been typing too long. Last night, unable to sleep, I got up to do some writing, and the cat didn’t like that at all. After enduring loud complaints and head butts, I gave up and went to bed.

  4. I now have two books roughed in terms of main characters, antagonists, and overall very vague arc. I started on one, and the other will wait until I finish plowing through two research tomes (800 pages and 400 [auf Deutsch] respectively). I may have a few other things burbling up, but classes started for me and for my students this week, so even my muse is laying low.

  5. Sadly, writing has chugged to a stop for now because lots of RL required ‘can’t be put off, must be handled now’ things.

    I barely get to use the computer for blog-stuff (over breakfast, which is me too sleepy still to try write story) and maybe for social time with family for a few games. It’s been busy.