Hey dira, longtime fan of your writing here. I was wondering if you had any tips on your workflow that you'd be willing to share? In particular things like how you plan out and plot your longer fics, and how you juggle multiple projects at once, or stay inspired to keep writing when you've hit a block? For someone so prolific I'm sure you must have a lot of awesome advice for people getting started with writing their own fics!
Thanks! It’s very kind of you to imagine that I have some wisdom to pass on here. I don’t know that I can say anything that’s directly helpful, mainly because everyone has their own process suited to their own style and circumstances, and also because–other than being semi-organized about writing original stuff when I was doing that, uh, at a detectable volume, which I haven’t been this year–I’ve never really cultivated anything that feels, from the inside, like a System for writing.
I do keep track of e.g. how many words I write per day per story, because I am a nerd and tracking that makes me feel accomplished or in control of the process somehow; if that kind of tracking stresses you out, don’t do it. If it’s fun and pleasing and you get a little hit of dopamine when you look at your lovingly color-coded grids, go for it.
There isn’t really a way to make any of this stuff easy, I don’t think. (I mean, but what do I know, I don’t even use Scrivener. I’m told it’s great?)
If writing long fic doesn’t come naturally to you, maybe you want to write short fic, and that’s what works for you. If you want to write long fic but you find yourself floundering in the middle or struggling with structure, welcome to writing long fic: it kind of sucks sometimes. I do a lot of talking out stories with anyone who will hold still long enough–my zero draft/first outline is usually a chat transcript. But for some people they don’t want input or an audience until much later in the process, so if that’s you then jot down all your own thoughts privately.
(Do write stuff down, though. No matter how obvious the thought seems, you will not remember it later.)
If juggling multiple projects makes you feel more stressed out or confused, maybe you want to work on one thing at a time. If writing one thing at a time makes you feel like you’re missing out on a hundred other opportunities, or you’re spending all your time daydreaming about other stuff instead of writing the thing actually in progress, maybe you want to juggle. When I feel like I want to be ~fair~ to all my WIPs I use a random number generator or random list-orderer to decide what to work on during any given writing time. When I feel like I have one thing at the forefront of my mind, I back-burner the rest until I run out of steam on that one. Some people have like, schedules and systems and stuff, apparently, idek.
As for staying motivated… man, 2019 has been a bit of a WIP graveyard for me.
I gave up on a lot of stories this year, and my writing ground nearly to a halt–by my personal standards, and those vary from person to person too–from about May to September, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s like that. Some stories are just not worth the misery to keep going on, and the best thing to do is set it aside for a while or forever. Sometimes if you’re blocked it means you’re going the wrong way and you need to back up and try taking the story on a different path.
But if you’re determined to finish something and you’re confident that you’re on the right track with it, then you… keep showing up. Keep going. One sentence at a time–one sentence a day, if you have to, and I have definitely had stretches of time with some of my long fics where that was all I could manage to do. Sometimes one sentence a day was more than I could handle. But if you keep at it long enough sooner or later you do reach the end, and if you do that enough times, sooner or later people on the internet will imagine you know what the fuck you’re doing. :)