WIPs, and Why I Have More Than One

WIP: in every day language, a Work In Progress. You’ll often hear authors talking about their current WIP and how many words they’ve hit and how irritating certain chapters were to write. In fact, we talk about them even when people aren’t listening, and don’t care.

I am one of those crazy people who has more than one WIP on the go at any given time.

I think it started as a bad habit. I have a very overactive mind. Often ideas come all at once from all sides and I need to get them down. As soon as they’re down, I have a complusion to keep going with them. Short stories are the unfortunate fodder to this irrational and stressful behaviour. If I write a short story, that’s often the end of my social life and sanity until I can come up with a fabulous novel to encorperate it.

When I first started writing I found the speed of my hand and pen could not match the speed at which I was continuing with the story in my head. (Side note: I never, ever plan, but that will be the topic of another post later – which I think is why I ramble along sometimes and story arcs get huge. Anyway. I digress.) This proved frustrating and, at times, in my mind I had already completed the novel without reaching it in real life. This then led to mind-wandering, other ideas, other stories – when I still had a half-finished WIP on the go.

It didn’t stop me, of course. I often write two novels, or two projects, side by side. When I was writing Against the Elements, I was already planning a time-travel novel named The Summoner, and on top of that I was drawing a stick-man comic with my college friends in it that took up a great deal of my time.

I enjoy working this way, and then again, it can be endlessly annoying. On one hand, if I get stuck with one project, I can always continue with the other, therefore keeping the creative muscle working. On the other hand, one project can sometimes smother the other, meaning the more I write on one, the less I care about the other.

This is happening right this moment.

My current WIP is an adult(ish) novel named Circle, which takes place in a fictional city and Hell. I have a troubled relationship with Circle. It’s the first novel I’ve ever tried to write entirely in first person; I made one of the more minor characters far too brilliant and now only ever want to write about him; the genre is way out of my comfort zone; I had to plan it; and it is growing longer and more unruly every day.

On the flip side, I am writing a graphic novel alongside my good friend Joe ‘Thief’ Clark (his website, for those interested, is here), named Son of Songs – a space epic concerning a mythical cult, an ancient Roman belief, and, amongst other things, William Blake. I am enthralled by it. I want to write it all the time. I can’t stop writing it all the time. Space is one of my ‘things’, as well as literature and ancient Rome; I am also absurdly interested in graphic novels and superheroes. The project is fresh and exciting and funny, and I can’t wait to see it flourish.

Son of Songs is bullying Circle into a Writer’s Block quivering wreck.

Not to mention that I am in the planning stages of a novel kind of about King Arthur entitled, at the moment, Kings and Queens.

I am my own worst enemy.

But I like to think that if I didn’t work this way, I’d probably be entirely insane, not just a little. I think my multiple WIP mindset is saving me from the asylum. So perhaps it isn’t all that bad.

Of course, I know people who think I’m mad. I have a lot of writing friends who are perfectionists, and get stuck into every detail of a novel, and then can’t even contemplate the idea of coming up with something else until their work is finished. I like to think of these people as ‘professional writers’. They stick with something til the end. They are not fickle in their character relationships as I am. they are dedicated.

I salute you, single-WIP-writers. You are achieving something I never shall. For now, however, I remain as prolific as ever, and intend to stay that way.

Writers: are you a split-personality-WIP-writer? Or do you find that you have unending focus?

1 comment
  1. Esme,
    After reading this, your latest post, I have to come to the conclusion you lack any form of discipline when it comes to writing. How you finally managed to get “Against The Elements” to the stage where it is about to be published is remarkable, given the circumstances.

    While I have no wish to deter you’re enthusiasm Esme, take a tip from me and try (very hard) to stick with one WIP at a time. 🙂

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