Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A different approach to writing books

Some time ago, I finally updated my website. I used to do this every weekend but sort of fell behind on that. Plus, I wasn’t sure if I had anything to update. I’d been struggling with some of my WIPs and was even considering ditching a few of them. But then I figured things out with my current projects and put on the site everything I have going on right now. All the books I am writing or revising.

And it was quite a list! I counted all those books and started to wonder: How the heck am I going to work on them all? Because if I didn’t work on them all, then that list would be on my site forever. And I don’t want that to happen.

In the past, I would switch between books whenever I had something new to write or if I had nothing else going on at the time and could work on revising a book I wanted to submit. But that strategy just wasn’t working for me anymore, because everything was taking too long to get done!

I knew it was time for a change. And if I wanted to work on all of those books at the same time, and not just whenever, I knew I was going to have to figure out how to do that.

After some thought and much paper-tearing over bogus ideas, I finally settled on a plan that I started using last week. And so far, this particular method is working out well for me.

At first, I divided the books between fiction, nonfiction and poetry. I also listed my daily writing things: Book-reviewing for Night Owl Reviews and the short story challenge I am currently taking part in.

Next, I decided on what days I would write certain books. Some days, I am writing fiction, and others, I’m writing nonfiction. (I can’t jump between fiction and nonfiction in the same day.) It was all spread out between Monday through Friday. (The weekends are NOT good days for me to work on books because it’s hard to get uninterrupted time to write or revise.) On Mondays and Wednesdays, I’m writing fiction. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, nonfiction AND poetry. And on Fridays, I revise two books.

I honestly thought it would be hard for me to work on several fiction projects on the same day but it’s actually not that difficult. I jump between one story and the next with ease. However, I have found that it’s helpful to read A LOT of nonfiction (books, magazine articles, Internet articles, etc.) in between these transitions.

The one thing I did not like about this method is that I’m only working on one book one day of the week. In the past, I’d work on books Monday through Friday, and some more than others. I feel guilty only one day is set aside for one book, and some authors may react to this idea with horror, but if I want to get all of those books on that list done, I need to give all of them my attention every week. Even if it’s just once a week. I might give a book an extra day as projects are either removed or finished. Also, I don't set a time limit on how much time I devote to each book. I spend as much time needed to get done what I want to do at that point.

I also don't like that I am working on books 3 times a day M-F but that's the way it has to be for this thing to work.

But the BIG thing I like about this method is that ALL of my current works-in-progress are finally getting worked on. They all have my time and attention, even if it’s just one day a week. (And as it is, I have 6 other books pending publication -- four of them are not on my website because they are self-published books I don't have a cover for yet -- so I’m not exactly in a hurry to finish the next book!) I am glad I am finally working on all of them at the same time and moving closer to getting them done.

I have said in the past that I just can’t work on ONE thing at a time. I’m the same way with reading: I can’t read just ONE book at a time. I have to have two or three projects going at once. I realize that 11 books is a bit much to have going on at once, but it is what it is. That’s the situation. It won’t always be this way and, for now, I’m using a method that works best in reaching my goal to finish them.

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