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Old 01-06-2013, 07:46 AM   #1
chicgeek
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Any Other Solo Artists Out There?

Meaning -- anyone else out there only able to work on one project a time? I say "project" because I'm currently working on a trilogy, and I am able to think about all three books, even as I write the first one. Because really, it's all one big story. That's about the extent of it, though -- I don't have anything solid written down for the next two books, just a mishmash of random infodumps and all the details floating in my head, waiting patiently for me to finish book one.

I guess I was compelled to post, as I have a tendency to see far more "How do you decide what to work on!?" threads and they leave me feeling a little inadequate. Now, I'm sure I could use the lovely search bar to dredge up a bunch of old threads on this topic, but the truth is, I'm in the market for some fresh commiseration. Aren't we all?

It's not that I don't have other ideas -- I do. In spades. It's that the thought of entertaining them all at the same time is overwhelming to me, when it seems to take all of me to stay focused on my current project and give it the attention it deserves. Along similar lines, I basically always have to write my drafts chronologically (I can edit them out of order, but I have to write fresh content in order). Maybe I'm just more linear that way. Or this is super common and nobody told me.

Back to multiple projects... it's just that I know in my gut that if I stop working on this, it could sit on the shelf for years. And I don't want that. I want to finish... I need to, come hell or highwater. But I have to say... those other ideas are getting mighty impatient with me, and sometimes I wonder if I'm just too afraid to try branching out.

I'm interested in other people's experiences, even those who are able to juggle multiple projects. How do you do it? Are you more productive. Do you prefer it? Or do you just end up getting nothing done?

And for those of you who are like me, how's it working out so far? Do you have to write your drafts chronologically, too (I guess that question applies across the board)? Do you go nuts trying not to succumb to the other ideas floating in your head? I know I do, even as I feel grateful that I've only got one thing to focus on at a time.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:25 AM   #2
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I find that I work better when I work on one project at a time. I can do multiple projects, but I prefer not to now that I realise that doing that eventually ends up to me losing interest in each project one by one (i.e. start one, than another; lose interest in the first, work on second; lose interest in second, start on third, etc) and I don't get anywhere with any of them.

I can't stop myself for getting new ideas for other projects, though. I realise now that the best thing for me to do is write down the idea and any barebones scenes/dialogue that pop into my head, but ultimately set it aside until I have at least one complete draft of my current project. I tend to either create what I call a 'masterdoc' in Word or create a project in Scrivener to keep all my notes. I also have a masterlist of my projects (completed, hiatus, future, etc) on Excel. I don't entirely eliminate other projects, but I do my best to ignore them until I can dedicate all my time/work to them properly. Otherwise how am I supposed to do them justice?

Since you asked: no, I don't always write chronologically. I tend to, in a general sense, but not always. For me, I write scene-by-scene and I tend to get ideas for these scenes in clumps. I find it very difficult to write the scenes within these clumps in anything other than chronologically, but I can jump around in the timeline of my project with the clumps themselves (if that makes sense). I also don't have to finish scenes completely before moving on; if I've outlined it or have a skeletal structure in place, then when I'm having trouble with a scene I can move on and come back to it later.

If it matters, I love to outline before I write. Not too closely, but I do like to know a lot of details before I start to write a scene. I'm not sure if it's relevant to writing one project at a time or writing chronologically, but it might be worth considering.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:25 AM   #3
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I'm a solo artist as well.

However, if an interesting idea pops into my head, I'll jot it down in my phone and keep adding to those note files as the ideas come.

In terms of actually planting myself down and writing a draft, I make it a point to only focus on one project at a time.
I would rather have one finished novel than six half-finished ones.

(That "six" is not arbitrary. I actually have 6 idea files in my phone's notepad )

In terms of scenes, I make a very vague outline before starting. But for the most part, I write pretty chronologically as well.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saizine View Post
I find that I work better when I work on one project at a time. I can do multiple projects, but I prefer not to now that I realise that doing that eventually ends up to me losing interest in each project one by one (i.e. start one, than another; lose interest in the first, work on second; lose interest in second, start on third, etc) and I don't get anywhere with any of them.
That's how I feel. Like it's a quick way to lose any sort of momentum you might've built up. But I know that this is just how some people operate. It's interesting how our minds are all so different.

Quote:
I can't stop myself for getting new ideas for other projects, though. I realise now that the best thing for me to do is write down the idea and any barebones scenes/dialogue that pop into my head, but ultimately set it aside until I have at least one complete draft of my current project. I tend to either create what I call a 'masterdoc' in Word or create a project in Scrivener to keep all my notes. I also have a masterlist of my projects (completed, hiatus, future, etc) on Excel. I don't entirely eliminate other projects, but I do my best to ignore them until I can dedicate all my time/work to them properly. Otherwise how am I supposed to do them justice?
Interesting. I don't even have enough projects to warrant a master list yet. I feel the same, way, though, that my work might suffer if I split my focus. Still, even when I completed the first draft of my current manuscript, I didn't think: "oh maybe I'll go work on something else for awhile" I sort of caught my breath and thought: "Phew!! That was hard, and it looks like it's getting harder from here." I waited about a month before going back to it, but there was no doubt in my mind that that was where my focus needed to be exclusively.

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Since you asked: no, I don't always write chronologically. I tend to, in a general sense, but not always. For me, I write scene-by-scene and I tend to get ideas for these scenes in clumps. I find it very difficult to write the scenes within these clumps in anything other than chronologically, but I can jump around in the timeline of my project with the clumps themselves (if that makes sense). I also don't have to finish scenes completely before moving on; if I've outlined it or have a skeletal structure in place, then when I'm having trouble with a scene I can move on and come back to it later.

If it matters, I love to outline before I write. Not too closely, but I do like to know a lot of details before I start to write a scene. I'm not sure if it's relevant to writing one project at a time or writing chronologically, but it might be worth considering.
I'm the same way when it comes to outlining. I tend toward a more "long form" scene plan -- essentially writing out the scene without worrying over the prose itself, just letting be a stream of consciousness type thing, so I can go in and tweak the nuts and bolts of the scene itself without disturbing the prose. I find this works for me because I tend to be long-winded, so writing concise scene plans takes a concerted effort.

But it definitely makes a difference knowing what the heck you're about to write about than not. I mean, I've pantsed with the best of them, and some interesting stuff has come from that, but ultimately it's just more efficient to plan first in my mind.

I'm not as flexible when it comes to writing scenes out of order, though. I'm basically stuck until I finish the scene, which can be both good and bad. Good because it means I'll get through it one way or another (instead of hopping ahead and then never getting back to it), bad because I can get stalled for long periods of time.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P-Jay View Post
I'm a solo artist as well.

However, if an interesting idea pops into my head, I'll jot it down in my phone and keep adding to those note files as the ideas come.

In terms of actually planting myself down and writing a draft, I make it a point to only focus on one project at a time.
I would rather have one finished novel than six half-finished ones.

(That "six" is not arbitrary. I actually have 6 idea files in my phone's notepad )

In terms of scenes, I make a very vague outline before starting. But for the most part, I write pretty chronologically as well.
I feel the same, in terms of not wanting to be saddled with so many unfinished projects. I just think it would be maddening, but I can't help but wonder if that's what does it for some people; keeps the spark alive maybe, having a poker in so many different fires.

I do like to jot my ideas down, but it almost feels like the more weight I give them (so, the more that I write about them), the more tantalizing they become. I end up keeping them formless in the back of my head to avoid temptation, but I worry sometimes that I'm missing out on a chance to help them properly develop.

Or I could just be overthinking it .
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:00 AM   #6
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I believe I would fall under this category, though I may do some things that disqualify me. Here is what I do:

I get an idea. I plot this idea. I may come up with unrelated ideas, but they only get jotted down and put to the side. My next move is to write a first draft. While I am writing, that is all I am doing. Spare ideas contributing to existing possibilities or new ones, again, are written down only. Once the first draft is done, I move on to plotting and writing the next idea. Then I come back to idea one to edit. Then to two. And so on and so forth.

So tldr version, I alternate projects by draft, but don't interrupt the piece at hand.

If I were to try to write two stories simultaneously, I guarantee my worlds would get mixed up. Although that isn't the worst thing because my pieces all link together in some way large or small. Similar to the CLAMP multiverse. ( I had to let my nerd flag fly. Represent!)
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:07 AM   #7
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I can only work on one long piece at a time. More than one and I get my worlds confused and start writing cross-over books.

Other ideas go in the notebook for writing later.

I work on other writing at the same time as novel writing, but only short form pieces.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:11 AM   #8
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I believe I would fall under this category, though I may do some things that disqualify me. Here is what I do:

I get an idea. I plot this idea. I may come up with unrelated ideas, but they only get jotted down and put to the side. My next move is to write a first draft. While I am writing, that is all I am doing. Spare ideas contributing to existing possibilities or new ones, again, are written down only. Once the first draft is done, I move on to plotting and writing the next idea. Then I come back to idea one to edit. Then to two. And so on and so forth.

So tldr version, I alternate projects by draft, but don't interrupt the piece at hand.

If I were to try to write two stories simultaneously, I guarantee my worlds would get mixed up. Although that isn't the worst thing because my pieces all link together in some way large or small. Similar to the CLAMP multiverse. ( I had to let my nerd flag fly. Represent!)
I'm sensing a theme, here -- people are able to change projects between drafts. Hm. Maybe I'll get there someday... right now I'm enjoying being immersed in the process of trying to finish this one manuscript in its entirety, draft by draft.

Then again... I often go months at a time with horrific writers block, and I've always wondered how I could alleviate this. But it tends to happen in the middle of a draft, so I always feel like shifting my focus to another project would ultimately only make the problem worse.

But maybe not... I mean at least I'd be writing at all. It's such a fine line to tread... I could easily end up with several half-finished projects that way, but at the same time, it's almost worse when I'm stuck on my draft and and not working on anything at all as a result.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:14 AM   #9
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I work on other writing at the same time as novel writing, but only short form pieces.
I struggle even being able to do this. I think it would help keep me sane, but brevity has never been my strong point, and I tend to be meticulous to a fault. Writing a short story is almost harder than working on a novel... I end up wanting to say way too much with too little.

*points to signature quote* story of my life.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:34 AM   #10
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So tldr version, I alternate projects by draft, but don't interrupt the piece at hand.
This is what I do, too.
I guess it works well for me in that I get things finished, and don't waste time while I'm letting a draft sit.


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It's not that I don't have other ideas -- I do. In spades. It's that the thought of entertaining them all at the same time is overwhelming to me, when it seems to take all of me to stay focused on my current project and give it the attention it deserves.
In my case, I actually don't have that many ideas. Occasionally I get jealous of people who do, but it would probably just be a distraction. I find I have to *work* to get ideas, and it takes me a long time to develop one.

Quote:
Along similar lines, I basically always have to write my drafts chronologically (I can edit them out of order, but I have to write fresh content in order). Maybe I'm just more linear that way. Or this is super common and nobody told me.
I write the first draft in order, and often edit in order, too. Or roughly in order. Once or twice, I've written a scene out of order if I can't get it out of head in the first draft, but it hasn't happened in a long time.

I think this is fairly common...
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:37 AM   #11
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I can barely work on one project at once. I couldn't manage more than one.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:53 AM   #12
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I work on one book at a time, but I use a spreadsheet to dump ideas into for future stories. I also skip around between series. For instance, I wrote the first book for a series, then wrote the first and second books for a different series. Then I went back and wrote the second book for the first series before moving on to the third book of the second series. Confused yet?

I just started another series, but I will probably write the first book and then begin a different series. My plan is to alternate between them so I don't get bored and to get various story lines in place.

But even with all of that, I still only write one book at a time. I don't move on to the next one until I hit the send button to my publisher.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:23 AM   #13
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I work on one book at a time, but I use a spreadsheet to dump ideas into for future stories. I also skip around between series. For instance, I wrote the first book for a series, then wrote the first and second books for a different series. Then I went back and wrote the second book for the first series before moving on to the third book of the second series. Confused yet?
Actually, this makes sense to me. A series is different than a trilogy, I imagine... as in... it's literally a series of stories, as opposed to just one, large, all encompassing one. Their may be common threads, woven throughout, but I could see how you'd want to alternate between writing books in various series'. I'd probably be the same way, but I'm far from that prolific.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:28 AM   #14
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In my case, I actually don't have that many ideas. Occasionally I get jealous of people who do, but it would probably just be a distraction. I find I have to *work* to get ideas, and it takes me a long time to develop one.
Well, it definitely takes me a long time to develop an idea. I've been developing the current one over the last 4 years, and I'm just barely getting to a point where I'm ready for beta readers.

Sometimes I feel like I take too long. I like to contemplate every blade of grass, when most people aren't going to look that closely. I'm all for quality, particularly when it comes to genre fiction, but sometimes I wish it didn't mean that I move as slowly as I do, pouring over my world. I'm the same way when I paint actually -- super technical. Every shade must be accounted for. I can drive myself a little crazy.

But I guess if that's what does it for me, I shouldn't deny myself. Still... one of these days I'm determined to write something that isn't super detailed, or ridiculously epic, or full of intensive worldbuilding.

One of these days...
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:15 PM   #15
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I struggle even being able to do this. I think it would help keep me sane, but brevity has never been my strong point, and I tend to be meticulous to a fault. Writing a short story is almost harder than working on a novel... I end up wanting to say way too much with too little.

*points to signature quote* story of my life.
It's not my strong point either, but if I don't finish anything I get disheartened. That's probably why I blog - regular small achievements!
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:58 PM   #16
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Solo artist here too. Right now I'm editing the second draft of SUPERAWESOMENEWBOOK and although I've been thinking about starting a new book I know I won't do anything about the new book until SANB is being subbed by my agent.

There's just something that feels wrong to me about working on two different projects simultaneously, as though I'm cheating on my books. I think my fear is that if I were to start a new project before my current one is done, I may lose interest in the current project and start this cycle of moving on and leaving a trail of unfinished projects behind me.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:30 PM   #17
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I have tried working on multiple projects. I'm working on a single project right now. My preference is to do one and finish it. I do get lots of ideas, all the time. For a little while I wrote them down, but I've gone back to just keeping them in my head. If the ideas are really good they'll come back when the time is right.

ETA: Yes, I write my drafts from beginning to end, figuring the story out as I write it. My biggest challenge to overcome is driving the story towards ideas I have of how it might/could be several scenes or chapters ahead, as opposed to writing based on what the characters have just done.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:43 PM   #18
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I'm also a "solo artist." I've never even started working on a new project until the previous one is completely finished (that means polished final draft). I do get ideas for new projects sometimes while working on an old one, but they are usually few and vague and easy to set aside til I'm done with the old one. I usually feel the old project letting me go (as if the characters are releasing me in some weird psychological way) and that's how I know it's done. Then I can move on to new things.

This month I'm doing something different. My current WIP has given me so much trouble and I don't have the necessary distance from it even after putting the second (third?) draft aside for a month, so I'm going to ignore it for a while and work on a new idea. As others have said in this thread, I too worry that if I split my focus I won't finish anything, but I have a good track record of finishing stuff and it's time to try something different because what I'm doing isn't working!

I too am amazed (and sometimes jealous) when I hear about other writers having so many ideas they can't possibly follow up on them all.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:38 PM   #19
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This is what I do, too.
I guess it works well for me in that I get things finished, and don't waste time while I'm letting a draft sit.
And this was the exact reason I decided to work on project two after the first draft of project one. I needed to let the first piece sit before editing, but I didn't want to let my writing go rusty. I am the kind of person that needs to write every day.

I am curious now, as to the proportion of solo artists who plot heavily to those who plot very little or not at all. Simply because I think it may play a role in the connection someone has to a story. Since I plot everything out, I know all the beats and nuances, twists and characterizations before a single word is written. I only let one or two subplots fly in naturally. As a result, when I am going between drafts and editing it usually isn't a complete rewrite. Also I can go back and look at pre writing notes to clarify intentions. It makes switching between projects at drafts easier.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:25 PM   #20
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I prefer to focus on one project at a time. Personally I find my WIPs really need full immersion, but I have my other ideas floating around in the background in case I get a spark of progress that I make a note of and put away for when I'll be tackling that next project fully.

I used to have a terrible tendency not to finish things but that seems to have lessened as time has gone on, but I still fear that things will wither on the vine or that I'll run out of steam or ideas. I think it's not wanting to be a procrastinator that means I've made my writing super organised and planned and generally I write when I'm busiest because I have to make time for it.

However, that being said the research stage is usually only possible when I'm on a break from studying, then I let ideas ruminate as I get on with my life until I'll be at home one evening and that kink in the plot suddenly makes sense.

Oh and in terms of drafts I usually do a first draft, let it settle, go back and re-read or do some minor editing, send it to friends unafraid to act as honest editors, take on board their comments, edit brutally, send it back and then to other readers more for general or layperson feedback. Rinse and repeat until I feel it's been smoothed out as much as it can be without mindlessly tinkering.

I don't know if I could have that process going on for several things all at once. I think of it like having multiple tabs open on my browser. I'm focusing on one of them but the others are there to switch to if something relevant comes up or a development takes place.

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:35 PM   #21
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I usually must have more than one project going on at the same time, often several, but I don't stop working on one project just because I have others. I don't think that would ever be workable.

I schedule everything, and each project gets it's own writing time. I always break my writing into two sessions with a long break between for lunch and a walk, so I can work on one project in the morning session, and a second in the afternoon.

Typically, one session will be devoted to a novel, and that session will stay devoted to a novel, until it's finished. The other session will be devoted to other projects, and sometimes to several.

But I never, ever stop working on a project until it's finished. You don't have to shelf one thing to work on something else, you just have to schedule your writing time around each project.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:16 PM   #22
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I usually work on one project at a time, though I should probably double up since I have so many on my current list. I like to immerse fully in a story, though, because it helps me keep the same tone and voice throughout. Mixing together really different projects can get a little confusing when it comes to keeping characterization/tone/voice/etc. consistent throughout each one. At least in my experience.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:26 PM   #23
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Sounds like a lot of you are like me. It's good to hear about similar experiences. I guess another part of what I struggle with being a "solo artist" is the fear that I won't be particularly prolific as a writer, given how long it seems take for me to fully flesh out a concept and get it written down and polished.

As it stands, I've never fully completed a manuscript to a point that I consider polished enough to query. I'm getting there, and it's super exciting, but it seems to be taking such a long time. I can accept though that everyone's experience is totally different... I'm also still pretty young, so I've got plenty of years ahead, but still... it can be tough to be patient with myself.

This is the first project I feel like I'll actually be able to finish... and that's pretty big deal, for me. But a part of me wishes that I could work on more than one project at once, since it seems to take me a very long time to finish each.

@AshleyEpidemic: You make an interesting point. I'm sure that the amount of planning a writer does before hand can contribute heavily to how easily they can shift between any given project. My problem is that I won't even let myself begin to plan another one.

@Jamesaritchi: I am in serious awe. Here's hoping I can get to that kind of point one day. I'd love to be able to juggle multiple projects, but right now I fear my brain might explode.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:33 PM   #24
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I can be super single-minded at times with writing. Every now and then I'll sit down, crank out a short story and submit. But, for the most part, the current W.I.P. has taken up all my creative time.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:05 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrastersBabies View Post
Every now and then I'll sit down, crank out a short story and submit.
I wish! Short stories are almost harder for me. I got close with one I started for a class, but it's currently gathering dust, half-finished, after I revised it way too many times and totally lost the thread of the narrative. I probably spent a good 6 months working on it, too, and I wasn't working on my novel at the time at all.

It is my sincerest hope that I will come to a point where I can crank out a few short stories without needing to overthink them. Because whenever I get stalled on the book, I find myself unable to write anything at all, and I start to go crazy. Plus, I'm sure it's great to have a few short stories waiting in the wings, to try and submit to magazines and get your name out there.
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