Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Other Obsession

Regular readers of this blog might have noted my post of a week or so ago in which I blogged about Binge Writing--the kind of writing that takes place as one is sliding into the end of a book.

Then there is the other sort of obsessive writing. The kind that takes place when one is beginning a new book. Most professional writers (whether published or not) tend to begin a new story almost as soon as they finish the old one. We might take a week or two, or a month, or a few days off. We might plunge in immediately upon sticking the previous book in the mail. (This is especially true for those with tight, back-to-back deadlines *cough*JoAnn Ross*cough*)

But I've found, no matter how long or short a time I take off between books (and I'm one of those that usually needs at least a day or two just to clear the brain), once the new book is launched, I become almost obsessive. The characters fill my mind. Plot points buzz around, possibilities crowd each other. I'm anxious to get started every day--even on the weekends, when I usually don't write--just to see what happens next.

Sometimes whole books can be written in this white heat of excitement. Most often, the obsession fades into the sort of day-to-day slog that can make writing sound no fun at all. But while I got it, I fully intend to enjoy it.

--Gail (happy with the sexy Victorian steam-punk blood magic fantasy she's started)


Trista Bane said...

Well stated! This sounds just like me! I just need to know how to get this "white heat of excitement" back once it fizzles down to a low simmer.

Teresa Bodwell said...

I'm more of a fits and starts person. Beginnings are especially difficult for me. It may take several starts before I hit this obsessed stage. But when it hits--look out. And I mean that literally because I'm liable to run into you while my brain is in my story-world. Have to be really careful to step out of that world when I'm driving. :-0

gailbarrett said...

My obsession takes the form of anxiety. I'm anxious to get the story out before it "disappears" and I brood about my characters all the time. No wonder I write angst:)

Allison Brennan said...

Yep, I become obessed too. My poor husband often wonders when I'm talking about real people or fictional ones.

At least I'm not alone.

Gail Dayton said...

Isn't it a relief to know you're not nuts?

JoAnn Ross said...

I can so identify with this. Out of 97 books, the writing gods have blessed me with 9 of those glorious white heat books where, if I could only type a thousand words a minute, I probably could finish in a few hours.

Thinking about it, I did once write a book in seven days back in 1984. It was the first male only pov romantic suspense for NAL and actually landed on RT's 100 best books of the past century (or whatever they called it) list. Time was of the essence because I was meeting my editor in L.A. ten days after I agreed to do it, and wanted her to be able to read the entire book before she came west so we could talk about it in person. That book was written in a blaze of white heat. Every so often my sweetie would make me get up and take a stroll around the neighborhood with him. He called this forced exercise "walking his writer."

Right now I have my shelved New Orleans book waiting for me to return to, but I'm keeping that on the shelf a bit longer while I start work on a new project I've been thinking about for several years.

And here's a surprise! In a huge departure for me, I'm actually going to try to resist diving in because I want to plan ahead. I mean really, really plan. Like filling three ring binders (I've already got all the file folders waiting, color coded and everything *g*) with detailed plot details, story twists, setting descriptions, and complex multiple character arcs. I have no idea if I'll be able to stick to this new way of working, but at the moment, as we writers always are when we start a new project, I am hopeful. And better yet, jazzed about the idea. :)