Wednesday 22 June 2016

Inside The Author: Why I Write Two Books At Once


For all of my adult life, I have been someone who likes to have things in reserve. I don't know whether or not it's linked to my chronic illnesses and my inability to predict from one day to the next how I'll be feeling, or if it's the organised planner in me, but I've always wanted to be ahead and to make sure that when someone asks for something, I have it ready for them. I’m the same with my university work; for every course I’ve done over the past five years, I’ve always gotten at least two weeks ahead of the schedule so that if I were to fall ill, or need to take a week off, I wouldn't spend it worrying about being late or behind with an assignment. I’m the same with my writing.

It didn't start out like that; in the beginning, I was more than happy to be writing one book, never mind two! If I was lucky, a book got written to my own schedule... and then something changed. It was when I was writing WAITING ON YOU. It was 2007 and I’d had the idea for about six months before I put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keyboard. I got to about chapter eleven before I realised that I had no idea where to take it from there. Now, if you follow my blog, you'll know that I am a planner. I plan everything! I have a chapter plan that I try to follow and I always know where my story is going, or at least where I planned for it to go! Yet, I just sat there as the hours turned to days, and the days to weeks, with no idea how to get from the middle of chapter eleven to the beginning of chapter twelve. I was blocked!

It wasn't like the usual writer's block, or at least it wasn't like my usual writer's block. I had plenty of ideas, I was brimming with them...they just weren't for that book! As well as my standalone books, I write a series called DYING THOUGHTS. I had written the third one and finished it before starting WAITING ON YOU. I usually liked to take a break between those books and write a standalone, which I was doing. Yet, my brain was bombarded with ideas for the fourth DYING THOUGHTS book and I was more than inspired. I swear that I could have written it there and then if I wasn't so determined to finish what I had started.

You see, like any other writer, I had started pieces early on in my career that had never really gone anywhere. I guess I was trying to find my feet and because I'm organised and had never really thought the ideas were so bad they should be dumped, I'd filed them away to use at a later date. One of those because my fifth book, LYNNE & HOPE, and another one has morphed into a book I'm writing now. Anyway, I'm getting off track. So, I have all these ideas, but I'm telling myself that I can't write them because I HAVE to finish WAITING ON YOU. It was like talking to a wall because my brain did not seem to want to accept those messages.

So, I tried to compromise. I wrote out the chapter plan for the fourth DYING THOUGHTS book and put it to one side. I went back to WAITING ON YOU. Nope, wasn't happening. I spoke to friends about it, I called my parents and spoke at length about how this was a real dilemma and I was stuck with no idea what to do. It was my friend Libby who eventually found the answer. She said that I should write the first eleven chapters of the other book and then go back to WAITING ON YOU and see if that helped get the ideas out of my head, clearing the way for me to finish chapter eleven. I thought about it for only a minute or two before agreeing that it was the best way forward.

You know what happened after I wrote up to chapter eleven of the fourth DYING THOUGHTS book? The writer's block for WAITING ON YOU cleared up as if it was an infection and I'd thrown major antibiotics at it. It was GONE! So, I was finally able to write the ending to chapter eleven and start, and finish, chapter twelve. Problem solved, right?

WRONG! Once I got to chapter thirteen, I was dying to write some more of the other book. So, I went back to Libby and she told me to try writing them side by side. Do two chapters of one and then do two of another. At this point, my second book hadn't been published and so I was writing books seven and eight. I did as she suggested and bam! I was writing and writing, switching after two chapters and getting chapter after chapter written. I never got the plots mixed up. I never found myself desperate to write part of the other, and it worked for me.

So, when I finally finished the book, it was 2010 and I was just about to have book two published under the Bug Books indie label. I planned to release one book a year, but with so many in "standby" as it were, we decided to release books three and four in early 2012 with book five coming in the summer of 2012. After that I realised that with five books released, I had very little back up. As I said at the beginning of this piece, I like to have something in reserve and because it had worked so well before, and also because I had ideas for another two books banging around my head, I decided to continue to write two books at once.

I am now working on books eleven and twelve. I am happy with the arrangement, and although I still only release one book a year, that may change if I get to the point where I have a large backlog. It gives me a chance to work on a DYING THOUGHTS book alongside a standalone and although I still get writer's block, I usually find that switching after two chapters allows my mind to not get too far ahead of itself, and keep the ideas coming. I know that a lot of writers work on more than one piece of work at a time and I think that if it works for you, then why not do it? After all, as the saying goes, if it ain't broke, why change it?

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