Starting Anew – And “Skipping Around”
Yes, I’m finally writing my second book! It feels incredible to be back at it again. And although I don’t have as much time to write as I used to, I’m using any time I have to work on the book. Imagining scenes, noting a character’s traits, or actually writing – they’re all important parts in recording this story that’s playing like a movie in my head, and I’m determined to make it happen again.
I thought it would be neat to blog about my progress on the new book. Of course, if I blog about it, I should try to do so regularly. And by regularly, I mean when I reach certain milestones while writing the first draft. And since I crossed the 3,000-word mark the last time I sat down to work on the book, let’s start with me blogging an update every 3,000 words. This could change, depending on my schedule outside of writing as well as figuring out what topics to write about in each blog entry. But I have to start somewhere, right?
Speaking of beginnings, let’s start there. Inspiration for the new book hit me around Christmastime, and it’s been raging ever since. I needed to reign in my imagination, though, and make sense of what it was telling me. So I outlined the basic plot, figured out who the main characters are, and started developing the world these characters live in. I’ve also chosen a genre (fantasy), the time period (medieval-ish times), and the target age group (YA, or young adult). Those three decisions have helped shape the story even further.
Building the characters and their world made me antsy after a while. There’s only so much preliminary work you can do before you cave and dive into the story heart first. And that’s exactly what happened. So far I’ve written parts of scenes in a notebook and typed up others. If I consider everything I’ve drafted – either electronically or manually – up to this point, I have six separate chapters in progress right now.
Yes, it sounds like I have a case of “Writer’s ADD.” Here’s the strange part, though: I don’t find the approach intimidating at all. In fact, it makes more sense to me than starting with Chapter 1 and then plowing through the book’s plot chronologically. I took the “chronological” approach when I wrote my first book. It seemed logical at the time, but anytime I was stuck on a particular section I’d either force my way through it or set the draft aside and return to it later. No wonder it took over 2 years to write that book. Between the sequential / chronological approach and writing the entire first draft by hand, I was rowing a slow boat to the final chapter.
What’s the benefit of a “skipping around” approach, then? Instead of remaining stuck on one section for a period of time, I work on different sections depending on which scenes are speaking to me most strongly at the time. For example, during one sit-down, I work on Chapter 1. During the next sit-down, I work on a different scene that occurs halfway through the book. This “skipping around” method allows me to move forward with the writing in a more efficient manner. Plus, since I have the plot planned out for the most part, I’m confident that I won’t forget what’s going to happen at any given point in the novel. Once I’ve finished the first draft, then I’ll do a complete read-through of the novel and add / delete / revise / ensure consistency as needed.
Writer and motivational speaker Hillary Rettig wrote about this “skip-around” method in her book The Seven Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism and Writer’s Block. She also posted an excerpt of that section from her book on her website. The excerpt is titled “Use The Writercopter To Speed Your Writing,” and it explains the approach and its benefits in a smooth, engaging way. I highly recommend all aspiring writers to check it out. Click here to read Hillary’s article.
Side Note: If you’re a writer and living in the Boston, Massachusetts area, I also recommend taking one of Hillary’s workshops. I took her class “The Time Of Your Life” last summer through Grub Street and loved it. The class focused on improving time management as a writer – in other words, how to make more time for writing as well as making the most of your time writing. The article link above will take you to Hillary’s official website, where you can find more information about her writing and coaching background, her workshop schedule, and how to purchase her book.
So, that’s where things stand right now. I have a plan, strong ideas, and the desire to not only write but to write a novel that makes me proud, is worthy of being published, and can touch the hearts and minds of my readers. You’re welcome to join me on my journey! If you have any questions or topics that you’d like me to address in future updates, let me know by responding to this post.
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Next Novel Update: 6,000 Words