He replied, that writing is like making pottery – his mum used to make her own pots, bowls, mugs, etc, so he *knows* about the process. So, go with me on this one, will you? He explained, with pottery you have a bit of production line going, you have different pots at different stages of readiness. You don’t take one pot from potters wheel to shop and then start another one. You mix it up a bit.
I thought about the different stages of writing – and I’m sure I’ve missed some because I’m far from experienced at this – but just based on what I’ve gone through:
- Coming up with ideas
- Plotting out the ideas
- Outlining the ideas into chapters
- Writing a first draft – you know, the vomit words on the page, don’t stop, just go on until you reach the end, first draft. That one.
- Self editing – where you go back and sort out the fact that the main character changes names half way through, or that the mum completely changes her character, or you work out you have three people, all with names starting with K, and all male...
- Editing from feedback from beta readers
- Submitting to publishers/agents. Rinse and repeat until it is accepted...
- Then, if it is accepted, there’s editing with the publisher
- Then there’s promoting the story – guest blogs, review sites, competitions, giveaways
And then you start again with another idea...
With pottery too, there’s a similar number of stages, from thinking about what you’re going to make, spinning it on the wheel *Patrick Swayzee, Ghost style* resting, firing in the oven, glazing, decorating, selling etc.
The point the BF was making was if I worked on one story from stage 1 to 9, and only that story at a time, I would be lucky to have one story published every three years or so.
A potter doesn’t do that. They will have some in the oven, while another group are being glazed, and there’s some waiting to go on the *Ghost* potter’s wheel. And at the end of the process, you have a good number of pots, ready to sell.
When I thought about this, I realised the best thing is that each of the nine (or more) stages of a story are quite different. It’s nice that one day you’re sketching out an idea you’ve had, and the next working on edits with an editor of a story you’ve lived with for a while, and then another use some beta reader feedback to improve on a different story again.
I was already doing this, without really thinking. Some friends asked me what was happening about Best Friends Perfect, and why I’d written other stories before it had been published. I was *trying* to get it published, but you have to wait a while for publishers to get back to you. So in the meantime, I worked on stages 1-6 for And Then That Happened, Christmas Serendipity and Frangipani Kisses, The Wrong Room, Escaping From Him, and other stories.
Variety, it’s the spice of life. And I welcome that.
Do you take this approach? Or have I got this *completely* wrong, and I should stick with one story from start to finish? Do you have any tips for multi tasking like this? Is there a risk that I’ll get the characters mixed up and forget who or what I’m writing? Thinking about this now, I do realise this is always an option.
Until next time
Liam Livings xx