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If You're Trying to Do Two Things at Once, Pick One

When you bank an hour or so of effort every night, you can work towards your creative future on the installment plan. "Banking" an hour or so of effort every night is the smart way of working towards your creative future on the installment plan.

Normally I can juggle revising a novel while writing the first draft of the other.  This is because they’re work of a different “weight.”  Writing a first draft is something that requires concentration and a certain amount of fortitude, while revising is usually fairly simple.  Let me put it this way, I know which mistakes I’m prone to, and after almost twenty years of writing novels (more than twenty years if you count my early sporadic efforts in that direction) I know how to find those missteps and correct them.

The problem though is that Witchfinder is a very odd book.  I wrote it, a chapter at a time, and posted what I call “pre-first-version” On my blog at a chapter a week over a year and a half.

If you’re going to ask what possessed me to do that, I will confess mostly I did it out of laziness.  You see, the hard part in writing a daily blog is coming up with the subject.  I know this sounds insane, but it really is.  Some days I wake up and stare at the monitor in the same horror that people stare down an abyss.

Once I come up with a theme and start writing, everything is fine.  But that moment of “oh, no, what do I write about” is like getting up from a sun-drenched beach and plunging into ice-cold water.

In those circumstances, the idea of having a pre-defined blog topic was so attractive that I started doing it just so I could escape blank-screen one day a week.

So, how did that work out?  Um… within giving me something to write about, it worked fine.  It also might provide a good way to manage your creative life, if you have a demanding job or school career and must cram your writing (or painting, or composing) around the edges of your life.

One of the accepted techniques is to do what I did and write a chapter a week.  I’m not suggesting you post it on your blog in its raw form.  Even for me, that’s a level of insanity that leaves me wondering if I lost my mind.  However, for instance, my older son who is taking a very demanding level of coursework in college, manages his creative life by “banking” five hundred words a day.  That’s what he calls it -- “banking.”  Every evening before bed, he sits down and writes five hundred works in his work in progress. Five hundred words is two double spaced pages, and most people can manage it in an hour.