I thought I was done with last week’s post and then realised, I probably need to explain WHY I write across so many series. I’ve written about it before, of course on Multiple Projects and Mythbusting.
But it was a post written focused on the business end and why it might seem like works come out at different times or why an author might switch based off business reasons.
Let’s talk about the art, the creativity aspects here, because I think the previous post covered that topic all too well.
Before we begin though, let’s be clear that I’m speaking for myself and people like me. Not everyone can or does do this. I know some authors who do only one project and that’s all they do and all that they have time for.
Which is great.
I have squirrel brain. I get ideas galore. Most of the time, those ideas are just tossed into the growing pile of ‘plot bunnies’ and left to fester. Sometimes, they break out though and I’m forced to write them because otherwise, that’s all I’m thinking about.
Instead of thinking about the project I should be working on, I’m thinking about this cool idea and how I need to get it done and i need to write it and… I’m not working on the next scene.
Which means when I sit down to write the next scene, instead of a vague idea, I have nothing. And sometimes, I can power through it.
Sometimes, I struggle and fight and whine and nothing comes out, or if it does, it’s slow.
Rather than fight it, I’ve just gotten used to writing bits and pieces of the new idea. If I’m still in the mood to keep writing it, I keep pushing ahead, until I burn out and then I can switch back to the main project.
Sometimes, that means I have 3/4 written projects, sometimes 1/3 or 1/5 or 1/10th. Yeah, there’s a LOT of stubs in my driving folders.
Ignoring the Squirrel
For me, ignoring doesn’t mean I get more writing done. In fact, working on multiple projects actually means I get a much higher output of words than working on a single project. Weird; but true.
It lets me work on the next scene in the back of my head when I run out of inspiration, lets me tackle something new with new ideas or excitement, until I’m super excited to work on the next project and the words just fly out.
Here’s the problem though. Sometimes, like with Magic Kingdom and Climbing the Ranks, I’ll get super excited, write a bunch and then realise that I might have over committed to the project.
Climbing the Ranks is going to take at least 2.5 years to finish.
Magic Kingdom, probably another 3-4 years with nearly as many words as Climbing the Ranks requires.
In both cases, while I don’t expect them to lose me money; they aren’t likely to be smash hits like A Thousand Li or System Apocalypse.
In this case, being a self-published author who can write and publish what he wants is a negative. My internal publisher didn’t kick the author before I committed to publishing all this, even if it might not be financially as viable.
Then the Finances Become a Worry
I mean, it’s less of a worry for me. I have 1 1/2 years left of A Thousand Li, and it’s not like I expect either of those projects to lose me money. It just won’t be a big payday.
But there’s where being a self-published author is an advantage a bit, because it means I can subsist off backlist a little more than most trad pub. I know roughly what my backlist can provide even if it is declining a little each year, so I’ve got some flexibility involved and can adjust my own spending to survive that.
On the other hand… there’s always the portion of you that wants to be read by many people. And that’s kind of what I’d love to happen, even if I know CtR and MK aren’t likely to do that.
So… then you have to start balancing the idea of what the next ‘big’ series is, what could work well and you could push hard and expect to do well. And that’s the publishing brain side of the equation, knowing that at some point, we won’t have ATL to shore up funds anymore…
But then a Wild Squirrel Appears
Worst, there are other ideas that I’d love to tap into, new markets and writing… and all these side projects mean I don’t have time to get to them. So I either have to set them aside for a long time, till I can find the time and space to work on them, or I have to bite the bullet and take more months of low income….
Balancing the business and craft sides is tough, especially when you’re writing as a full-time author and have squirrel brain. I’m not sure there’s a solution to it all, though I’ll admit, having a Patreon does make things a little easier.
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