How do you get your manuscript from page one to THE END? Do you plod all the way through to the finish to get the whole thing down on paper? After you’re finished with the first draft, do you take a break and turn your sights to a different story? Or do you stay with your original manuscript? Are you able to work back and forth between more than one piece at a time?
Right now, I have two finished manuscripts. I wrote a paranormal first and then a fantasy. The fantasy, The Watcher Clan, is complete and on its way to be appraised by an agent. The other one is still little more than a first draft.
What happened to the first book? I finished the first draft and then got an idea about a new manuscript. That first Paranormal sits in a corner of my office, alone, quietly waiting for its turn. I finished the fantasy, did some editing, and then became excited about making it into a series. I was so eager to start the series, that I left the first draft of The Watcher Clan to begin the second book in the series.
For me that wasn’t a good idea. My mind kept jumping between the two plots, and I finally realized that I had to go back to the original and get it completed. Now I have two orphans tucked in the back of my office: the paranormal and the partial second in the series. I really like my first paranormal and hope to finish editing it soon, and the second book of the series has great potential. However, my enthusiasm lies with the first book of The Watcher Clan.
I’ve learned that I can’t get my head around more than one project at a time. I often wonder if jumping from one manuscript to the other isn’t a form of procrastination. I’m great at that. It’s like tossing out a block that prevents me from completing something. I’ve learned the hard way that my writing method needs to be that I work on one piece to its conclusion before I think of anything else. Otherwise, everything suffers. Nothing is done well.
To push myself to complete The Watcher Clan, I decided that I needed a goal. I chose PitchFest, part of the ThrillerFest conference. For those of you who haven’t heard of this July event, let me explain. During the regular conference, a two and a half hour time slot is set up for fifty plus agents and editors to listen to author pitches. Similar to speed dating, aspiring authors stand in line to speak to the agents/editors of their choice.
Knowing that I had to have a polished manuscript by then, I ignored half-written works and short stories. The Watcher Clan became my only concern. My waking hours, those away from my job, were spent with my manuscript. I woke up in the morning with ideas straining to get out. Thankfully, I had the manuscript not only ready to go, but fresh in my brain by the deadline.
One tip, something I learned for this conference, was setting up a page to hand out to the agents/editors as I spoke to them. It had my bio, my story blurb and, since I didn’t have a book cover to show off, my picture. I attached my business card to it and handed one to each agent. And, guess what? Five agents asked me to send in my work!
Concentrating on one thing at a time seems to work for me. Kudos to those who have no trouble working on multiple projects. Authors like Charlaine Harris and Nora Roberts, who crank out two or more series at a time, have my admiration and awe. Perhaps, with time and practice, I can train my brain to accomplish that feat. But truthfully? I don’t think so.
Writers have very different paths to their success. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. So, my tip? Find the most efficient road toward your dream, but please don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
Remember, keep writing!