While I’m hard at work doing a major re-write on one of my earlier novels, I’m still moving forward with the planning and preparation for my newest project. I’ve completed the outline. I had already written a couple of chapters a while back as I fleshed out the story idea, so I’m ready to roll. Since I only have an hour a day to write, I have to manage my time carefully to actually get things done, but I also have to anchor myself properly on the story if I’m going to write effectively. It’s hard working on two stories simultaneously because it means I have to assume one character’s mindset on one day and another’s mindset on another day. It can get very confusing.
Additionally, it’s easy to get lost in a story when you’re working on it over the course of many months a little bit at a time. Sometimes, when I read my rough drafts, I find inconsistencies that make no sense whatsoever. I can easily fix them during the editing process, but it’s better if I don’t make those mistakes in the first place. That’s why outlining and character synopses are so important to my process. If I were a full-time writer, it would be less of an issue since I’d be working on it for hours a day every day, but as it stands now, I need these guideposts to keep me on point in my novels.
Normally, I keep all of this information in my Scrivener application, which is what I use to compose my novels. This approach works well, but for my latest project, I’ve added a new element – the whiteboard. I bought a large whiteboard and hung it on my office wall across from my usual writing spot. On the board, I’ve listed my main characters and planned chapters. The board doesn’t have the exhaustive details that I have in Scrivener, but it gives me some visual cues as I write so that I can look up at any point and see where I am and where I’m going. Here’s how it looks right now:
The great thing about the whiteboard is that I can sit back and think about the whole of the story and make changes when ideas come to me or make notes as I’m working through the story. It helps having this visual anchor right in front of me every morning. I get a real sense of what I’m trying to do. On more than one occasion, I’ve come up with ideas for the story and I’ve scribbled them down on the whiteboard to remind myself of the changes so that I could update Scrivener. This may be the first time I’m using the whiteboard, but I can already see the benefits.
After weeks of planning and plotting (pun intended), I’m finally ready to start writing in earnest this week. I hope the whiteboard helps me keep my focus especially since I’ll continue editing my other story on alternate days and won’t have the single-track focus as I normally do when I write. We’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck.