June 1st, 2007

viking princess necklace

Not writing books; reading them.

Most of you have got the idea that I'm writing a book right now. This is true. But simultaneously I am not writing dozens of other books, and this is also meaningful and useful. One of you posted (in a locked post) yesterday that she had a book idea she did not want to write, and it was bugging her. And hey! I know how to refrain from writing books! So I will share:

1. Write down whatever idea you have in whatever detail is fresh and immediate in your head. Put it in a separate file from other things. Close the file. Walk away.

2. Whenever another detail occurs to you, open the file, write down that detail, close the file, and walk away.

You are not noodling around with the idea -- remember, this is how to refrain from writing a book. You are not going to see how much you can get down. You are not seeking after the next scene. No. You are not writing this book. You put down the bit that's bothering you, close the file, and walk away.

Of course, eventually you may find that you've done this for several thousand words of actual prose, plus more story notes on top of that, and that maybe it's time to give up not writing this book. But you will be prepared if that day does come, and you will not have run mad with the bits of things bobbing around your head demanding attention you don't intend to give them.

I, for example, have just written the first 200 words of The Vine Princess. Not only am I not writing The Vine Princess, I am not writing the book that comes before it! I am champion at this not-writing of books. Two hundred words. The file is now closed, and I can stop thinking about Lisved's feelings about boats, because they are moderately safe, they will be there in case I want them later, and I am not writing this book.

(But I am happy with this book I'm not writing, because it starts with Lisved, which it should do as she is the title personage, and it starts with boats, which is never, ever a bad sign. Well, okay, maybe occasionally. But -- Swallows and Amazons, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, all the Aubrey and Maturin books! Messing around in boats is our friend.)

(And the dangerous thing is that now I have to write down the beginning of the book before The Vine Princess, which is not about Lisved and boats at all but about Soldrun's grandmother and the Skraelings. But I am not writing these books, and at least this bit is shorter, and you can tell because I am not going into the notes file for the rest of the series and sorting out which bits from it definitely go into each book and organizing them into as rough an order as I can manage and all. Because it is not time for these books.)

Anyway. Collapse )