I have a confession: I am far better at starting projects than at finishing. One of my greatest joys – and woes – in life is that there is so much out there to explore, see, and do. Friends have likened me to a magpie that loses focus when I spot something shiny and new. Kinder friends have mentioned that I let my curiosity steer me to new things. Both analogies are accurate.
This approach extends to my writing as well. I rarely get past the first draft of longer works before starting the next one. There are too many worlds, characters, and ideas to explore. And I have a sizeable stack of unfinished and first drafts to prove it. Having a lot of ideas isn’t inherently a bad thing. It’s the failure to follow through that presents a problem.
So what to do about this bad habit? I am actively working to be more mindful and methodical in my writing process. Holding myself accountable is much easier when other people are following my progress. It becomes harder to set aside a project when someone else is invested in it, even if that investment only goes as far as asking how the project is progressing.
I am also learning to love self-imposed deadlines. They provide a sense of urgency that helps me to stay focused. When I launched this site, I set a two-week deadline to introduce my current work in progress, a novel with the working title Rifted. Being a master in the art of procrastination, I’ve waited until the day before the deadline to write the post. So without further ado, a quick intro to the story:
Forfeiting his birthright and his place in a powerful ruling class family, Dai Meredin creates a quiet life in the Riftlands, a frontier territory on the boundaries of opposing worlds. When the daughter of a war criminal arrives in the Riftlands wounded by an outlawed spell, the search to find her attacker forces Dai to confront his family’s past and the future of his adopted community.(Rifted, blurb)
The seeds of Rifted were planted with my 2016 NaNoWriMo project. That year’s story, The Heirs of Winter, was my first and only attempt at a novel-length fanfic. Set at Hogwart’s ten years after the Harry Potter series, it told the story of one minor character from the original series and two new characters. While I enjoyed writing the rough draft, I realized that it was not the story that I needed to tell about the two added characters… nor the right fictional world to tell their stories.
For NaNo 2018, I revisited the central theme of the fanfic – what shape does post-war life take for those who were not aligned with the winning side? I kept the essential core of the two characters I’d invented – their personalities, the effects of war on their lives, and their attempts to reconcile themselves to post-war life. The story moved from the Harry Potter universe to a unique world with its own history and culture. The resulting NaNo project was the first draft of Rifted.
I’m working now through the second draft. To return to the analogy from my last post, I am no longer shoveling sand, but attempting to build the castle. Want to see how the castle turns out? Follow my progress here on the blog. I’ll post more about the characters, their world, and the side stories that have happened along the way.
Until next time, read, imagine, and be safe.