I’ve been working on three works in progress for the past few months, one of which came out of the other one. The first details a PI’s experience with a serial killer called The Body Puzzler, the second is a PI novel with a totally different character, and the third is a short story for Bouchercon 2015’s anthology (I hope). Why in the world would I be doing this to myself? Easy answer: I’m ADD, and the more stuff I have to do, the better I like it. I’m easily distracted, so if I can distract myself from one to the other, yet still be writing, it’s a no-lose situation.
I open up one of the works-in-progress and enter that fictional world. Then when I reach a spot where I need some research to fill in the blanks, I make a note of that at the exact spot in the narrative (by making the note ALL CAPS IN RED), do my research, and get back into it. Or I jump into one of the other fictional worlds I’ve invented, and work on that one for a while.
The result? Lots of work gets done, my ADD brain is satisfied, and I go to sleep with a smile on my face.
Now to the question I just know you’re dying to ask: how to I write? Do I outline? (No.) Do I write by the seat of my pants? (Sometimes) Do I take a character and put them into a situation? (Sometimes) Do I know where it’s going when I start? (Not usually).
How does this work for me? It works fine. But whatever you do, however you do it, write what you want to read.
If you write to the market, by the time you finish, the market will have moved on, and probably did so before you started. Never write to trends; write what you want to read.
I cannot repeat this enough: WRITE WHAT YOU WANT TO READ.
Don’t worry about whether or not you’re going to make a lot of money. As a friend of mine (who should know) said, if you get into writing to make a lot of money, you’re crazier than you think.
Making a lot of money in this career is not the usual result of writing a good book/story/article. Giving people something to think about is.
So I keep plugging away at the keyboard, writing what I want to read, seeing the action in my head like it’s a movie. Then I print it out, reread it, edit it, redact words that recur way too many times, and ship it off. If someone buys it, great. If they don’t, no problem.
Just keep writing. And eventually you will have done what you wanted to do: written what you wanted to read.
The hope is that somebody else will want to enter the fictional worlds you have created, over and over. That is how you make a career.
To quote a fictional sci-fi character, “Never give up, never surrender.”