What to Write, What to Write?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing the past few days. Not thinking about it in terms of “Why am I bothering” or anything like that. More about “Am I going in too many different directions?”

To give you some idea of what I’m talking about, I have written six books with one underway. One is an adult, traditional fantasy, one is a YA mystery adventure (coming out soon), one is a science fiction comedy and three are YA superhero (same series). Now I’m working on a collaboration project that is a YA steampunk superhero mashup (with JR Murdock). If you were counting, that is five different storylines/series.

Granted, the traditional fantasy may never see the light of day, but that still means I’m working on four different series. Is that the smartest thing I could be doing?

Perhaps I should focus on one or two and work them through to their logical conclusions rather than spread myself out so much. The problem is, that isn’t how my mind works. The story ideas that I get are all over the place. I love challenging myself to write in different ways/genres.

But what will my readers think? Will they say, “Michell, you need to finish this series because it really interests me. The others don’t. Hurry up.” Or will they like my writing style enough that they will discover all of the characters I write and eagerly await the next installment, whatever that may be?

One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, has done what I consider to be the penultimate series. Discworld. Within the Discworld he has written many, many different story arcs and characters. Sometimes they interact and most times they do not. He has the Rincewind arc, the Commander Vimes and the Anhk-Morpork Guards arc, the Witches arc, the Tiffany Aching arc and several others. He’s even done a number of one-offs.¬†All within the same world.

Is that what I should be doing?

I know that I have several story arc ideas for my “Mik Murdoch” world. That is the YA Superhero series that I have sold the first book of to 5 Rivers Publishing. I’m already looking ahead to some of the other series I hope to write in that world. The thing is, I also have¬†stories I want to write (or have written) don’t fit here.

Should I abandon those in favor of the common world?

I don’t think so. I know it will cause me additional stress to spread out my writing in so many directions, but I also believe it will help me to grow and continue growing as a writer. The downside is the books for the various series will take longer to write, but I hope my readers will understand.

What do you think? Should a writer (say me) focus his or her energies to a single project at a time before moving onto something else?

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2 comments

  1. I think you should do what you wnt to do. Writing for yourself comes writing before others, at least for me.

  2. I see both sides of this argument, but I think another point to consider is diversification. As I understand it, there’s a bit of danger for a newer writer in pigeon-holing themselves in one world. If for some reason the project doesn’t take off, then you’re left with a lot of material in limbo. If you instead diversify early, then when one project doesn’t pan out, you have other stories that still might find an audience. I see there being room for a sprawling common-world series once you’ve hit Pratchett-esque levels of fame (or at least have a really strong sense for what stories work for you as a writer, and what sells).

    Of course, I’m sure it’s possible to go too far in the buckshot direction. I suspect there’s a sweet spot somewhere in between focusing entirely on a common world, and working on lots of different projects. Maybe you could try alternating between writing something entirely new for each story you add to your common-world project!

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