January was a funny ol’ month. Work on my novel-in-progress was on hold for pretty much all of it, due to having an couple of paying edits to do. I guess, in the future, I need a way of managing my time to work on two projects at the same time; of protecting my creative time. But at the moment I am fully monoprojectile. One thing at a time is enough for me, especially since the paying gig was for a structural edit, and thus required me to get deep into someone else’s work.
It’s done now, and my calendar is free, so I’m back to Claws, or Our Kind of Bastard, or whatever the hell I’m calling it today. But there are, I’m sure you’ll be totally unsurprised to hear, difficulties when you park a project for five weeks.
I left a scene half-written, which was good because I could get straight back into the action. But after that… If I ever had a plan I’ve totally forgotten it.
Luckily, I’ve kept pretty good notes. Mostly these take the form of what’s already happened (but also when in the manuscript it happened, which is useful) but I’ve also a list of questions that still need to be answered. So I’m not operating in a total void.
What I don’t have is an outline, which I’m increasingly thinking is a strategy I should adopt; that I should finally shed my pantser clothing and fully integrate into the society of planners.
I say this in the full knowledge that I will probably never be organised enough for that.
But I have decided that I need to pause my headlong charge into the mire of adventure to try and catch my breath, and my bearings. ‘How are you doing this?’ I hear you ask: well, through spreadsheets, of course. Simply creating a grid with all my characters/groups at the top and time/scenes down the side and filling in the gaps in the middle.
It’s rough and ready and not really something I’d recommend – there must be a better way. But it works for me. Or at least it’s working at the moment. Planning needn’t be over-complicated. A note is often as good as an essay. And a spreadsheet strikes me as more manageable than index cards or whiteboards or whatever.
So I struggle onwards, limping back into the teeth of my manuscript and desperately searching for word upon word. But maybe this time I’ll know where I’m trying to get to. And any further interruptions won’t derail me too much because this time I’m coming prepared.
That’s the idea, at least. As always, I’ll keep you posted.