When I talk about the muse, I don’t usually think about a mythical figure. Or really anything separate from me that helps inspire my work. To me, it’s more the part of my mind where all the ideas simmer, waiting for me to get to them.
Of course, they don’t always like to wait. Sometimes I can work through the draft of more than one book in a series without an issue. Other times, it seems like several ideas try to clamor for my attention at once. Different characters all demand their story be told now. This can lead to me having trouble concentrating on the one I’m trying to work on.
Lately I seem to be experiencing the latter of these. I have five different series that I have at least one novel drafted for. Besides those, I have five series somewhere in the planning stage. As well as a list of about a dozen standalone ideas. Some of these may not pan out, but I’ll never know if I never get to them.
I have tried more than one way to make sure I can get to all the stories I want to write, all the characters who are constantly talking to me. I make a lot of lists. I fill out calendars to figure out when I can work everything in. One way I’d figured it had me taking ten years to draft all of them, working on one after the other.
Sometimes I work through one story in a series then move on to the next one. This is probably the most logical way of doing it, but it seems to take forever, and often, I have other characters trying to get my attention when I’m working on something else.
My current method probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Even to me at times, I feel like it’s not the “right” way to do things. But, it does allow me to spend time with each of these characters. I’ve taken the four series in progress(the fifth is all in some stage of revisions) and the list of standalones and work on one different one each day.
I tried randomizing them, but that had me working on one a few days in a row and others not at all for a couple weeks. I decided I didn’t like that after all. I’ve currently only been working this new way for a little over a week, so it’s hard to say exactly how well it will work for me. So far it does seem to be going well. It also means, though, that I get to spend time with each of the characters more often.
Sometimes when bouncing between projects, I can get overwhelmed. I’ll find myself wanting to work more on one project than another. One of my series, the characters seem to just take over. It feels more like they’re telling the story through me, and I’m just transcribing it. And they won’t shut up. It doesn’t always leave a whole lot left to give to those other projects. When that happens, I find myself shifting back to working on just one thing until it’s finished.
As in all things, especially writing, what works for one person won’t work for another. Even for me, my own method doesn’t always work. Sometimes I have to find another way to handle all the ideas that seem to come rushing at me. Sometimes they’ll wait their turn. But, other times, I have to do what I can to work in the more insistent characters.
Maybe your ideas come in a more orderly way. Or you have an efficient way of sorting through which you’ll work on. But, if you’re like me, and you don’t always know how to handle all of them, another method might work for you, too.