Writing Short Fiction While Writing Longer Fiction

First off, let me start by saying that I blame Blaze Ward, my husband, for all of this.

Next. One of the things that Blaze taught himself to do was to stop in the middle of writing a novel, pivot, write an unrelated short story, then pivot back, and pick the novel back up.

I’ve always admired that ability of his. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do it.

Finally, this morning, writer brain finally let me know that I, too, had this ability, at least with this particular novel and this particular story.

Let me explain.

I went down the wrong path with the current novel, at least with the current scene. Back brain kept niggling at me that I needed to fix it.

Yesterday, I was really tired. I fixed the stuff going into the scene that needed to be replaced. I was moving really slowly. It took me about an hour to do 500 words.

After that first hour, I took a break. When I got back to writing, I realized just how exhausted I was and that I didn’t know what actually happened next in the novel. Instead of pushing on, I took a nap. (While I posted before about writing while sick, I actually can’t write when I’m physically exhausted. Back brain needs energy to generate those words!)

Yesterday afternoon, I figured out not just the next scene, but the scene after that, for the novel. (It’s going to be so awesome!)

Last night, I woke up coughing a couple of times. It’s as annoying as fuck. I’m sound asleep, then suddenly, I’m awake and coughing.

Each time I woke up, writer brain kept telling me more of the story that it wanted to write.

When I finally woke up for good this morning, I told writer brain that I wasn’t about to even start that story until I knew exactly where it was ending. While I was in the shower, writer brain told me how the story ended.

So, I pivoted this morning. Instead of going back to the novel, I went ahead, started, wrote, and finished a short story. It’s about 4500 words.

I figured out there were a few reasons why I was able to successfully do this:

–I normally write into darkness. I don’t think I could have put the novel down if I didn’t already know not only how the current scene needs to go, but how the next scene goes as well.

–I knew the entire short story. Of course, there were still things I discovered along the way, surprises and cool shit. But the general plot was all worked out.

Blaze and I were talking about it, and he says that my theory about why I was able to stop and write the short story fits with why he can do it. Blaze doesn’t always write into darkness like I do. Instead, he describes it as writing into dimly lit hallways.

For me, in this instance, both the short story and the next few pieces of the novel were contained in dimly lit hallways.

Could I stop a novel that I’m writing completely into darkness, write a short story completely into darkness, then pivot back without a break? I’m not sure. Writer brain says no, that’s not how it works.

But I really wanted to write this story. It’s silly, and fun, and totally Blaze’s fault. I’m happy I stopped, and I’ll let you know if I have any difficulty getting back to the novel, though I doubt I will. Writer brain is so excited about the next scene in a way she wasn’t this morning.

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