7 thoughts on “Jilly: Herding Cats

  1. OK, so I’m looking at four stories in my current project. I’m not drowning like you are — well, no. I have a shorter attention span, and that’s why I’m doing short stories in the first place, so I am drowning. I firmly tell myself to concentrate on one thing at a time — but that can be re-evaluated each morning.

    Also, I have a big ol’ word document that is roughly divided into four sections (one for each story). I call it “Bits and Pieces” and I stash anything I need into the (roughly) right story section. The bits and pieces include pictures (and where I found them), internet trivia and articles (again, where I found them and date accessed — a lot are screenshots), writing sprints, little pieces of genius that just come to me (not a lot of those). I keep video links for music and miscellaneous realia on my YouTube channel. I probably should screen shot that just in case and stick it in my Bits and Pieces.

    Remember to back up this sort of file just as you would an actual WIP.

    And I seem to remember Jenny mentioning a shoebox method for physical clippings, photos, etc. for works in progress that aren’t being actively worked upon. IIRC, she was talking completely different story universes, but I don’t see why you can’t have a stack of five or six shoeboxes, one for each book of the series.

    • A ‘Bits and Pieces’ Word document – I could do that! I’d probably have to split it into ‘current book’ and ‘rest of series’.

      I don’t have shoebox stuff. So far I have one and a half notebooks’ worth of scribblings (very interesting to look back and see how the story has changed as it takes shape, not efficient for keeping snippets of genius top of mind), a playlist (the best tracks on it were suggestions from commenters here), a file in my downloads with a few hundred images, plus more images on my desktop related to my most recent scene that I haven’t filed yet, and a whole file of bookmarks that link to the story in some way – research articles and other useful trivia. Plus a few word documents containing random brainstorms. Oh – and I downloaded a demo of Scapple (thanks, Jeanne, for that useful suggestion) so I have a handful of Scapple files too. So far I’m finding that good for working out specific problems – individual scenes, plot holes, relationships.

      Keeping everything in one document would reflect the way I want to work with the story. I’ll focus on one particular aspect as I write, but I still want to keep everything about the series open and current, nothing archived for later.

      Thank you!

  2. Maybe this is why I’m a plotter, rather than a pantser, these days. I barely had enough short-term memory to hang onto the stuff that fits along a well-documented plot spine. There’s no way I could keep this must stuff straight.

    • I’d love to be a plotter! Maybe in time I’ll grow into it, but sadly so far it’s not working for me. Holding everything in my head is working…just…and I like the results so I don’t want to tinker too much. If my brain explodes I might have to re-think 🙂 . Maybe Micki’s Bits and Pieces file might take the pressure off.

  3. If you feel like you’re getting the best results from going with the flow, then I think you just have to stick with it, even if you feel a bit overwhelmed sometimes. My only – not very good – suggestion is to have a separate notebook for random things that don’t fit in anywhere right now. I guess this is just the notebook version of Micki’s Bits and Pieces file.

    Really glad to hear it’s still all going well. 🙂

    • Thanks, Rachel! Yes, still going well, long may it continue 😉 , and I’m sure you’re right about sticking with it. On reflection, I probably always worked this way, it just wasn’t so hard to manage when I was writing contemporary, linked stand-alone stories.

      I know it’s a good problem to have, and if the gods of writing are listening – I’m not complaining, honest!!

  4. As I’ve probably mentioned 10,000 times, I never have too many ideas. I’m always incredibly grateful when I have one. My struggles are not so much coping with a wealth of choice, but reaching through the foggy mist and grabbing hold of something that can get me through the darkness and light the way for another ten pages.

    Even so, I think I know what you mean, because the feeling has to be the same. What works now? In this moment, on this page? You know more than the characters, so what would they do now, in this instance? Not what you think they’d do in book three, because of what they will learn in this book, only fifty pages from now? It’s incredibly difficult. Like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, except the donkey moves. And it’s not a donkey.

    I have a couple of variations of Michaeline’s Bits and Pieces Word doc. I don’t use a Word doc, though. I have a folder for physical printouts of articles that I think will not be posted forever, or not posted in the same place, and thus will be hard or impossible to find again. Plus newspaper and magazine articles or photos that I rip out of physical publications. So I have a physical stash. And on my hard drive I keep a folder of links to articles that seem stable. I don’t keep so many that I don’t know what’s there, but enough that they give me several solid possible leads. That’s been working pretty well, but as I read the responses, I thought maybe I’m limiting myself too much. I’ll have to cogitate.

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