Thursday, June 05, 2008

Fiction Writing ADD

I think I’m drowning... you know, without the water... the kids are officially on summer vacation and I appear to be the only mom on the playground not outlandishly thrilled at the prospect of having them home twenty four seven... ah, yes, bad mommy. To correspond with this momentous time of year where my time will be totally occupied in my full time job – being a stay at home mother – my creative demons have started to rally. Oh, yes, they is busy.

What is it with me exactly? Why is it, when I space out my time so that I can get some work done uninterrupted I’m at some sort of an impasse in my writing – either I’m at the point in revision where I really REALLY need to not work on it, to get some distance, yada yada... or I’m really not set on what I’m writing and therefore my writing time is less productive than say when I’m in the heat of creation.

Well, I thought (that was probably mistake number one, trying to think out my life... I don’t do well with that – it’s why I’m a seat of the pants writer... plotting never works out for me and the best adventures happen when I’m not at all looking for one)... Anyhoo, I thought I worked this out rather well. Revisions are done. Agent research is done. Pitches written. Synopsis complete. So basically, the plotty planny thingy, was to be geared up to fire off queries and sample pages so that I could concentrate on the kids and leisurely (hello, self? I said leisurely didn’t I?) start on the next project, without pressure.

So, what happened? I am suddenly inundated with plot ideas. I have writer’s ADD, hey look, a bunny! Seriously, I had a backburner plot all picked out... middle grade historical. I started some rudimentary research, and it’s a good idea and I like the main character... but, here’s where I think I went wrong. In order to write it, I really feel like I have to be immersed in the time frame... So I have a lot of reading and research ahead of me before I’m comfortable writing it... so my creative demons (most people call them muses but mine aren’t behaving lately, so there you go) well my creative demons didn’t want to wait... they’ve been steadily handing me fully formed plot ideas for various genres for the last month and a half.

Okay, let’s count them up, with the historical I already had planned, I have a notebook full of notes for two different middle grade novels, two different YA or tweens (I think one of them is actually tween but it could go either way), one mainstream adult fiction, one women’s fiction, and one – of all flippin’ things – mystery / suspense.

Seriously? Seriously. Here’s what I think happened; I planned myself a break from writing and something in my little creative section of brain power said, ‘oh, no, we don’t want a break... let’s keep throwing ideas at her until something’s way too good to pass up.’

So, have you ever done this? Have you ever had so many different creative irons in the fire that you confused yourself on where to go next? How do you pick? Objectively, I think I need to pick one serious idea and work on it solely. What I may do, though, is pick one of the contemporary plots so that I can start the writing process sooner, and do the research reading on the historical in my spare time so that I’m more ready for it when I finish the next wip...

So, my first step right now is to write up a pitch for each... then go through them and see which ones I’d rather read. Okay, what are you guys working on? Anyone working out more than one idea? And what are you doing with your kids over summer break?


Hélène Boudreau said...

My name is Helene and I have Fiction Writing ADD. Seriously. LOL

I have WAY too many started but not finished WIPs and have been putting my finger in each pot here and there for the past month. Very unproductive technique. I have 3 early chapter book series, 2 picture books and three novels on the go. Not to mention my MG that's actually coming out this fall that I need to market and promote (gulp)

Now that I've finally revised and submitted my latest, I've decided to work on (AND FINISH)the novel that's the closest to being done. Must. Focus.

And yes, I'm a SAHM too and yes, I have 8 weeks of 24/7 coming up. (I'm with you) But I'm gonna try, try, try to live in the moment and have fun with them this summer and keep the writing for evenings and weekends when hubby can trade off. (it ain't easy when the creative fires are burning, tho')

Have a wonderful, productive and fun summer!!

Ello said...

oi! today there was no school because we had this freak storm and lots of power is out all over the place. Not mine thank the Lord!
Youngest school is done though so I am suffering until camp starts in a week and a half!!!

I think it is great to have a list of ideas. Write them all out and see which appeals to you the most. One of them is definitely going to be more pressing to write. I think this is a great place to be. You are busy and hectic so it stirs creativity!

Kalynne Pudner said...

I'm with you, girl! My compositional hearth currently holds the following pots:

(1) A book review of a scholarly book for a scholarly journal (due June 30).

(2) A revision of one of my academic papers for inclusion in a textbook (due July 31).

(3) The transformation of said paper into a powerpoint presentation for a professional conference (due August 6).

(4) More queries for Completed Novel, now down to two partials pending response.

(5) Non-fiction, humorous parenting book based on the pedagogy of The Philosopher-Mom.

(6) Novel #2: historical fiction, from cut scraps of Completed Novel substory. (Synopsis plus two chapters complete.)

(7) Novel #3: prequel-of-sorts to Completed Novel; one of the two MC's earlier story. (Synopsis plus one chapter complete.)

(8) Novel #4: contemporary women's fiction, a la the stuff you'll find at The Debutante Ball. (Synopsis plus one-and-a-half chapters complete.)

My inspiration dips into them randomly.

Oh, the kids? I pretty much ignore them.

*just kidding* Thanks for the opportunity to recap my to-write list in my own mind!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Helene,

I didn't even count the early chapter books... I have an idea for a series that I've been mulling, but I'm putting that off for a bit because I don't feel well versed enough in the market and I think it's actually more difficult to write for that age than for older kids.

Congratulations again on the upcoming release! I'm so happy for you! Let me know when it's out - I want to pick it up anyway, but I'd be happy to do a blog review, too.

Hi Ello,

I wish I had my kids going to summer camp... I probably should have done that this year, but I figured I'd be home... the upshot is I'll be taking them back and forth to swim lessons every day, two softball games and two baseball games a week until the beginning of July... and then at the beginning of August we start football - four practices and one game a week...

I'm going to pick up notebooks. I'd like to just start the next one in a word file, but it's just not going to work for me until after they're all in school. So the rough draft will be handwritten, so I can take it with me on the go...

I may send you a few pitches if you have time.. I think I know which way I'm leaning, but I'd love a second set of eyes.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Kalynne,

Okay, I thought I had too much going on... I'm thinking about locking my kids in the closet myself, and I only have three of them... (I'm kidding, by the way, if any of your readers are itching to all DCFS)

You know, the querying process itself takes so much out of you, I think I've come up with all of these ideas partially to keep my mind off the impending rejections coming my way.

Best of luck on your submissions!

WordVixen said...

I don't have any kids yet (alas), but my husband is just as bad when it comes to wanting attention and interrupting my work (strangely, he doesn't do this when I'm sewing, which requires somewhat less concentration).

And, boy, yeah. Bad creative ADD. I keep a file box of story ideas, notes, quotes, etc for things that I don't think I'm ready to handle yet or which haven't fully formed enough to work on. But my ADD isn't limited to writing- oh no. It also applies to site building, crafts, jewelry making, etc. Lately, I've been devoting my creative energies to finishing up old projects, and I can't believe what a difference it's making to my mind! The more I clear out, the more ideas for my WIP pop up.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Wordvixen,

Thank God, I thought I was the only creative person like this... I'm purposely staying away from drawing right now because it saps my energy from writing...

Oh, and my husband is much worse about demanding attention while I'm writing than the kids are.. just get them off to bed and get a spare minute and here he comes... I'd like to put a bell around his neck so I know when to hide...

Demon Hunter said...

Well, no kids yet---yay! But yet, I still have no time. :*/

Anyway, I'm working on some shorts and trying to get those published this summer. Then I'll rewrite my screenplay, and then I'll completely rewrite my WIP because the plot was weak.

I have ideas all the time. I have notebooks full and I usually pick the one that I think is completely original and fresh. ;*)

Hélène Boudreau said...

The querying process _is_ exhausting but if you're ready then get Raskin's Wings OUT THERE! :-)

Then you can distract yourself with all these wonderful ideas while you wait for The Call.

Thanks for the congrats, Merry. And I would LOVE a blog review. I'll do the same when Raskin's Wings is out.

Travis Erwin said...

Ideas come when they come. Don't fight them just write as much as you can

Julie Weathers said...

I really have so many ideas floating around I have this fear I will die before I get them all written. And what's really bad is they are all good ideas.

There are a few I could live without writing, but many are books I know need to be written.

For now, I concentrate on Paladin and then put it out of my mind once the submission process starts. It's the first of four books, but I'm not going to start on the second one until the first sells.

If I come up with stellar scenes that go in one of the other books, I just write it out and file it. I do try to stay focused on Paladin, though, since I am taking it to Surrey if I go.

Jerseygirl89 said...

I always have creative project ADD. It's why I blog, it's the only way I can be creative in 15 minutes bursts.

Over the summer my oldest is doing daycamp at her school for two weeks and soccer camp for one week. Other than that we will probably spend a lot of time at the library and the park.

silken said...

I think I have reader's ADD. I am trying to finish A Tale of Two Cities--which my son liked as his required reading and is telling me I "really gotta read it!" (how can I pass that up?) but it's not easy so far...and then so many others keep telling me books to read, an online book club for The Hiding Place, but I want to read son's summer required reading too (Salt: A World History) luckily my sis is going to read The Crystal Cave as he reads it. And thankfully the other is To Kill A Mockingbird, which I just re-read earlier this I had to leave off of Les Miserables which I was in the middle of to do Two Cities.......aaaaahhhhhggggg!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Demon Hunter,

Creative ADD seems to be an epidemic... but then, I think it's better to have too many ideas than none.

Screenplay and plays are the two areas of writing that I've stayed purposely away from. I love the theatre and have alot of acting friends, but I think this is a special niche of writing - it's a team effort. The actor, director, producer and writer all have a creative vision of the same piece, and when they all mesh together they can create something amazing. Maybe someday I'll want to head more in that direction because the team effort, when it works, looks to be even more rewarding than solitary writing... but for now, I'm a little skittish there.

Hi Helene,

I answered this one in private, but definitely let me know where to pick it up when your novel's out...

Hi Travis,

I think that's pretty good advice. It seems most of our muses don't pay any attention to our schedules. Right now I'm dabbling with two of those ideas... we'll try the Twain approach, I'll keep working at both of them until one pulls to me more than the other.

Hi Julie,

You know, I love series and would love to do one eventually. So far my plot ideas run only in one complete book... maybe someday I'll get one that exceeds the boundaries of one complete telling.

Hi Jersey,

Blogging actually takes up a lot more time for me than it should... the posts themselves aren't time consuming, it's the visiting, reading and commenting... fun, but sometimes I just have to pull back. Lately I've been reading and not commenting a lot more... when I comment I wind up coming back multiple times to see where the conversation's gone.

We do the library in the summer, too, and swim lessons which are five days a week. Plus oldest's softball and youngest's baseball... then in August middle starts football which is four or five days a week... sigh... their schedule in the summer is too much to work through, really, I wind up writing in notebooks or odd hours at night. But I keep telling myself how temporary it really is. Someday very soon, they won't need me to take them anywhere and might not even want me to play catch with them or teach them their stance at the plate... then I know I'll miss this... so whenever I get down about how little time I have to write, I try to remind myself that I'll have my whole life for that, but very short years of having them at this age... and the way I raise them now will be with them forever.

Hey Silken,

Well you've picked some very heavy hitters to read, haven't you? I loved To Kill A Mockingbird... it makes the short list for my alltime favorites. I have to re-read Tale of Two cities, it's been a long time, and I've been meaning to get through Great Expectations again too....

Mary Witzl said...

I'm awful about organizing myself when I write. I don't plot, and I work on several manuscripts at a time. At present, this includes my memoir, two YAs I've been polishing and tweaking for longer than I'm prepared to admit here, my for-adults novel which I started off tweaking but am now rewriting the ending of, and an MG on the back burner. The MG is terrible, but it has real potential, so I can't abandon it, can I? Siiggh. Add me to that fiction writing ADD list, but no -- I'm writing a memoir too, so I can expand mine to general writing, can't I?

As for my kids, I'm teaching the youngest Japanese this summer, which will involve a LOT of whining, bitching, begging, pleading -- all mainly from me. I'm hoping to use computer time as a bribe.

Merry Monteleone said...

Wow Mary,

I'd have a hard time just keeping up with teaching my kids anything as involved as Japanese, for God's sake.

The weird thing for me is that my reading taste is so eclectic, I tend to come up with ideas in multiple genres... I like middle grade and YA, but I wonder if my voice is better suited to adult fiction... but then, you're supposed to stick with one genre... I don't think I'll be able to do that, though.