Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Temporary Change in Writing Focus Can Increase Your Productivity

How do you know when the story you are working on is the one you need to be working on at any given moment? For me, it has to do with focus. If things that couldn't possibly happen in my story keep popping into my head, I take that as a sign I need to take a break and work on something else for awhile...namely whatever it is that keeps popping into my head.

I consider myself to be a historical fiction and poetry writer with a few true stories from my own life thrown in for good measure. However, I recently had this great idea for a story in the science fiction/fantasy genre and no matter what I did, I could not get rid of this idea that had taken up residence in my brain...but then when I tried to focus on it, it felt forced because it is different than what I am used to writing. I felt like I really didn't have a good plot, just a good scene or two really--that's when I decided to take advantage of the one great scene and try writing some flash fiction. I am still in the drafting stages but I think flash may be just long enough to use the material that inspired me without forcing me to create a full plot in a genre I am unfamiliar with. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

I have another story in the works as about an Army Sniper in Vietnam which I began writing to show my husband that I have ability as a writer and that I could even write something he would be interested in. I think it may turn into another flash fiction also, or possibly a short story due to my personal interest in the story waning. Each time I think about trying to create a full novel from that story, I find myself unable to come up with a full plot, or even other characters that seem believable.

The novel I originally started is about a young girl growing up in rural Kentucky during the depression, who is suddenly thrown into an adult role where she has to make adult decisions and take care of her family herself when her mom falls ill. This was my main focus when I started writing, and I think I have plenty of material, as well as ideas for a second and third book already--but I don't want to get bogged down in a novel for the next two years and come to the realization that I am the only person who is interested in such a novel. So, I am splitting my focus a bit in order to get my feet wet and discover my niche.

If you find yourself staring at the blank page, try putting it away for awhile. If you feel the need to write something, try going for a different genre or writing just for fun--see where it takes you.

Update: I have a fully written children's book ready to publish, and a rough draft started on another (with ideas for several more.) My writing journey has been full of twists and turns, setbacks and bursts of inspiration. I don't think I will ever be on the straight flat road as a writer, but I am enjoying the bumps and twists of the scenic route right now.

How do you determine what you will write on a given day? Do you have more than one thing going at a time, or do you have to focus solely on one story in order to make it work? What are you writing today?

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