Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Fricassee

Oh, the GREEN outside my window! The Winter Ogre who's inhabited my body for the last few months has finally melted away.

(Yeah, it's that bad. I should really live in the Caribbean or something.)

So I'm officially "between."  In other words, I've finished my WIP, am waiting for my crits, and won't send it to Josh until I've fixed 'n polished it.  Since I'm on submission with a different novel, I'm not going to sink a lot of time into the rest of the WIP's story arc (it's a planned trilogy), but I do want to at least know where I'm going.

Because, yanno, just because you're on submission doesn't mean you stop writing until the book sells. Gotta. Keep. Going.

So I'm in the nebulous, thinking-about-storyline stage.  And it makes me feel scattered and unproductive.

I mean, I want WORDS.  I want to COUNT THEM.  I want to gloat at the end of the day.

Something like that.

So, let me ask you:  What does your fuzzy, between-books, story-planning stage look like?  Do you feel productive when you're NOT DOING MUCH MORE THAN SITTING AND STARING?  Or walking and staring?  Or showering and staring?  Or whatever you do while you're staring?

(Then again, maybe I shouldn't assume that everyone does the Inane Stare thing along with me.)

I love knowing I'm in good company through all the stages of Life As Writer.  So share your "betweens" with me.  I'm all ears.


  1. For the first week mostly I get caught up on all the movies I've missed while writing!

    Then I generally look at the paper on which I've written "Awesome Ideas That I Cannot Look At Right Now Or This WIP Will Not Happen" and see which one pings me most.

    It does make me feel a little hollow sometimes, when I finish one and right before I move on to another - like, something's been all emptied out. But the awesome thing is that as soon as I get that next idea and start writing, I get all filled up again, and the creativity starts frothing and boiling and pouring out of my fingers!

  2. You've captured it perfectly with the word "hollow." That's it EXACTLY! I'd much rather froth and boil. :)

  3. Ooo I like this post. I'm with JM Frey in that I get "caught up" on everything. Although, for me, it's more like laundry, cleaning, etc.

    THEN I get to plotting! *claps hands and squeals* It is different than actually "writing", though. I can't physically see my progress (no words to count?), so it's hard to know how productive I'm being. That can be frustrating, forcing patience on myself until the story is pretty well outlined. I start to get fidgety, feeling like my characters are moving on without me. (Traitors!)

    Nice to know this "stage" of writing is something many others deal with!

  4. Totally agree that it's so much more rewarding to have a word count at the end of the day. But I do find that I do a lot of writing in my head and I can be like that for days, without making notes or anything. Then I have a mad session typing it all down and it is hugely cathartic! I much prefer that to when I'm at a sticky bit and can't seem to write through it - that is THE WORST! BTW I do lot of the staring thing! ;-)

  5. I'm in that spot right now. Finished my manuscript, off to CP and beta readers, plotting next wip. The fact that I'm not getting any WORDS down that contribute to word count makes me feel incredibly unproductive. But at the same time, these notes and outlines are necessary b/c I NEED THEM. I'm not a pantser lol.

  6. By the time I'm at the point where I'm ready to start something new, I've already got some kind of glimmer of what I want to work on next. Sometimes it's a plot, sometimes it's a character. Sometimes it's no more than a premise, and those can be the most interesting.

    When I finally allow myself to actually work on the new project, I like to brainstorm about the world or setting if it differs from our own. Then the characters and their predicament.

    For me, this is the most fun part, with the most promise!

    Good luck writing the next awesome project, authoress.

  7. I love planning but often feel very unproductive and a bit discouraged until I get it all figured out. Then I feel much better. I try and have ideas and basic plots ready before I stop polishing so I don't feel quite as in the doldrums.

  8. I love planning for about a week... then get tired of it and want to leap right back into writing :P This tendency has caused many problems in the editing stage, when I discover all sorts of plot holes.
    Have fun discovering your next story :)

  9. I did a lot of staring yesterday and a little staring at In-N-Out burger. I got some writing books, so I was staring and reading. I feel totally lame and unproductive trying to jump start the creative brain-- it must be done!

  10. I'm in that stage right now. And I don't know what to do with myself. It's unsettling. I have been focusing on the day job, and that's got some good things acomplished, but I think I need to come around and just sit down and focus on the thing in my head and get something on paper. I'm an outline kind of girl, so I need to get down some stuff.

  11. My in-between (which doesn't last long) involves LOTS and LOTS of "pleasure reading" - anything and everything I can get my hands on until inspiration strikes and the pleasure reading becomes research reading again. (In historical fiction, there's never an end to the reading - but that's a good thing, as we all know.)

    Look at this as an opportunity to jump onto the shelf and read something you'd been wanting to but couldn't get to because you were editing and didn't want to distract yourself - something "too close" to what you write or which you love but didn't get around to for some other reason.

  12. My in between stage: Hollow, a bit grumpy and lots of staring which shortly thereafter (not too long after because I'd go nuts so would everyone around me) leads to frantic scribbling, typing and off I go on another writing adventure! Oh, BTW, I'm a pantser, so I don't do much outlining until I've let my characters run amok for a while.

  13. I'm in between too but I spend work time researching agents (something authoress doesn't need to do) and that in itself is a huge deal. I submit, I read other people's blogs, I blog myself, I think about the next novel and give myself two or three months before the huge process of plotting officially begins. I miss writing every day but I enjoy dropping in on my current novel to tweak and drive myself crazy with the never ending process of making it perfect. I like this vaca from manic writing. Just sayin'

  14. I'm sort of in an in between place right now. I'm starting to query for my latest novel and even though I've had ideas for new stories come and go I don't have anything solid planned. After I finish a novel it's usually a few months before I start another because with me ideas for new books just hit me randomly, if I try to think it out it doesn't work. But I still feel unproductive and I use the fact that I'm in the query trenches as re-assurance that I am in fact doing something even though I'm not working on a book.

  15. I feel so adrift during the inbetween stage. I tell myself that it's a great time to catch up on the filing/housecleaning/whatever, but myself doesn't listen. So I journal, just to see what ideas wanna be tried out.

  16. You know, if I ever plan for a story, I usually sit and stare somewhere.

  17. My latest in-between stage has coincided with the second semester of my senior year of college, so I haven't had time to stare. :( I really want to sit down and reflect quietly for a bit, so that maybe the pieces of ideas floating around in my head will coalesce into something, but I'll have to wait a few weeks, it seems like.

  18. I'm kinda in the same situation (except one step behind since I don't have an agent). My story is part of a series. Just recently I at last outlined the other five books! It makes me happy to know exactly where I'm going.

    As for what I'm doing right now . . . I have to right. I HAVE to! lol I've been taking up a hobby I've had for years: writing fanfictions. I enjoy that because it's casual; there's no pressure involved. Plus it's a good way to keep my writing skills fresh and I love the instant feedback I get.

  19. Can't say I've recently gone for more than a week with not typing or world building for some story. And the times I haven't, my hiatus was somewhat enforced due to my daughter's birth.
    Seems to be a common malady that those who write, must.

  20. Ah the stare! I figure I'm developing quite a reputation around the neighbourhood with my glassy eyed stare, and I'm thinking they're probably attaching it to some other cause. If only they knew. With me, 'the stare' happens during a piece of work when I'm so submerged in it, I'm always thinking, thinking, getting lost in it, and yes staring.
    I feel quite relaxed during planning stages, but I can't stay in them for very long. Top time without week max!
    What are your top times?

  21. That's exactly the stage I'm in now. For me, my insanity looks something like this:

    "Yay! I get to plan! And world-build! And outline! I don't have to worry about missing my word count goal!"
    "Am I planning too much? I just spent an hour and a half reading about how batteries work. Maybe I should start writing."
    "But what if I start writing and get stuck because I didn't plan enough? What if the protagonist CAN'T build their own batteries because I built the world wrong?"
    "Okay. I'll just sketch out a basic plot, and whatever's there by [deadline here] is what I'll start writing."
    (Deadline arrives)
    "But I haven't caught up with my Twitter feed yet!"

  22. Well, let me tell you, I'm right there with you right now. On submission with my manuscript and looking at it's sequel. I took the time to set up my website and get it off the ground, but now it's time to get into research for the next book - personal interviews to do, journal articles to read for the science/forensics details, story planning to do with my partner.

    I never seem to take a break, but instead leap from project to project. I think I'm afraid to lose momentum? But I also don't see this as a non-productive phase. I'm a planner through and through, so this is an integral part of the manuscript even if words aren't going onto the page. The story taking shape in my head allows for efficient writing later. So for me, it's all part of the process.

  23. I make lists: colors; rhyming words; every bird I can think of; materials; textures; that sort of thing. It's both mindless and focused, and somewhat of a relief from the intensity of completing a WIP.

  24. I usually walk around muttering something to myself. I also get the glazed look in my eyes. Let's face it. Even if we're not "writing" or "revising".... we're thinking about it.
    When it's time for me to let it stew before the final revision, I have to fight the urge to run back to the computer and start working on some random chapters.
    I'm going through that right now. I'm trying to focus on my surroundings, and stay off the computer. But it's sooooooooo hard!

  25. The 'between' stage for me involves massive amounts of exhaustion, doing nothing (NOT in the normal procrastinate-y way ;)), and being annoyed my brain needs to regrow from being scrapped clean during the project-finishing stage.

    Usually I go on a movie-watching marathon, read a lot, and yes, stare blankly at nothing for long stretches. (All unrelated to, uh, the normal marathon-tv-show-watching phases I go through when, you know, avoiding work. *cough*)

    I give it a few weeks, sometimes more or less, and mess around with any little writing bits that may prove interesting (a lot of online RPing or gaming may also happen).

    It's all about letting the grey matter regenerate for the next epic undertaking. (Weakling grey matter! So easily exhausted!)


  26. I know how you feel. I'm just popping out of a between place, too. I've learned to embrace them because if I force my way past them, the next book really suffers. It's a good time to fill the well back up. I catch up on reading, watch good tv, think about things in the real world instead of in my made up worlds, get research done for some of the "maybe I'll write this book someday" ideas in my head and make notes on them. I know that pull to put down words and watch that progress bar move, but I'm learning to like this place, too, and the freedom of just wondering for a while. :)

  27. I love the "betweens." It opens a floodgate for all those niggling little ideas that had to take a backseat while my attention was on the have-to's of a WIP.

  28. I always feel like I do when I'm moving--mourning and missing the old, eager to find a new friend, but kind of on my own for a bit. Eventually I get a spark and start to daydream about new characters. But sometimes it takes a few false starts to find the book that will really be complete. It's all MUCH easier after 30,000 words or so! :)

  29. I feel like I'm always juggling several projects at once: one writing an initial draft, one I'm revising for myself, and one which I've sent off for comments. I haven't actually queried anything yet, so I don't have that added anticipation, which might change the game completely. Who knows? Ask me again in a year :)

    East for Green Eyes