(Or, working on two book projects simultaneously without going crazy…er, crazier.)

I started 2012 with the intention of editing Portal Woes and finishing drafting The Other Side of the Horizon at the same time. Since I don’t typically have enough writing time in the day to devote good chunks to both, the goal was to work on PW Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then work on TOSOTH Tuesday and Thursday.

In theory, it’s a great idea. In practice…not so much.

What I’ve discovered is that I really get in the groove and know where I’m going with one project, and then I have to completely switch gears the next day in order to write the other. I would call myself a multi-tasker, but apparently my brain hasn’t figured out how to juggle this part yet, at least with the time in a day that I have to devote to it.

Now I’m trying an edit-for-three-days-and-then-draft-for-two approach. So far, I think it’s working.

Of course, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t gotten stuck in both projects at the same time. Setting up the chain of events in the first third of PW has been a brain-wracking experience, and then I hit a snag in TOSOTH regarding oil rigs (or the steampunk equivalent for something that isn’t oil) and it took me a while to get past it.

The funny thing is that both problems were related to a lack of visualization. I’ve learned the hard way that if I can’t get a grasp of it in my head, it’s difficult to write.

Researching oil rigs was interesting—I already knew a bit about them, but I’d never looked into their history before. This is one of the really cool aspects of writing; I learn all kinds of things as I go.

On the bright side, I’ve finally escaped the mire of writer’s block. I have enough information to continue TOSOTH, and I’m nearly a third of the way through the second draft of PW. Powered through another chapter and a half today. I’d hoped to be finished with it by the end of March, but that first handful of chapters needed serious work in order to match up with the last third of the story. Fortunately, I don’t anticipate the rest of the book needing a major rewrite. (Let’s hope it stays that way.)

As of today, Portal Woes is just over 156,000 words. The rough draft was about 147,600. I’m planning on trimming this draft down, but it ultimately depends on what the story needs. My second drafts are nearly always larger than the rough drafts; I tend to layer in additional details, sensory information, and essential plot snippets as needed.

TOSOTH is still just over 70,000 words. I’m shooting for around 100,000, but we’ll see. It’s already longer than I’d anticipated at this point because the plot sort of exploded. (Wild Miracle-Gro growth, I’m telling you.) That part of story evolution still amazes me. It’s going to be a cool story, though, and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

It’s supposed to be in the upper 70’s the rest of the week here, and I’m itching to put the porch furniture out so I can work out in the sun, but I suspect it’s still too soon. We had 70 degree weather followed by large tornadoes followed by two inches of snow two weeks ago, so who knows what it’ll do next. It’s barely the middle of March.

I could probably write a story about that…

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