I’m working on this novel, and I’m also working on a bunch of other projects. For me, it’s important to keep a few things going at once — preferably projects that are very different from one another so that moving from one to the next feels like taking a break, but at least one of them is (most of the time) moving forward.
This is common, I think. Susan Choi said that Trust Exercise began as a way for her to get away from another draft that wasn’t going well. I’ve heard some writers talk about “cheating” on their main project, which gives them permission to treat the “other” project a little more playfully.
I don’t think about it quite this way; everything I’m working on is something I want to publish, but each project might be at a different stage. I’m currently working toward a full first draft of the next novel, revising a long nonfiction thing (I’m not sure what to call it, because it seems to want to be 20,000 words, a length that defies easy categorization), have one short story out on submission, and am conceptualizing an essay on a friend’s upcoming story collection (which is called JERKS and if that doesn’t make you want to pre-order it now, just look at that cover).
Being able to move between mind mapping, drafting, revising, and submission (with all its associated admin work) is useful to me. I can work on whatever I am gravitating toward that day, as long as I don’t start using any one project as a way to procrastinate on another. (And even if I do, so what?)
This is all to say, I’m taking a break from the novel this week to bang out some short story drafts. It’s been a long time since I’ve written new short fiction, and I’m itching for it. There’s something about the novel being at this 50,000-word mark that just makes me want to deal in flash for a bit so I can write a gosh darn ending!
With absolute perfect timing, Jami Attenberg is kicking off what she’s calling the Mini 1000 today — 1000 words a day for just six days. I’m in — feel free to join us if you also need a quick breather from your big project.