I am about a third of the way into the sequel to CITY OF WOE and I know where I am going and I have written some very strong chapters and things are good.
So why did I slam out of sleep this morning, sit bolt upright in bed absolutely freaked about the ramifications of one particular chapter that puts one particular very popular character in peril and forces a location change? Why did it feel like one of my sons was missing? Why was it an absolute certainty that there would be no more sleep for me until this is settled?
Because that is how my particular process works. It is different for everybody. Mine is immersive, all consuming, and distracting at times, like I live in more than one world. My wife finds is charming, so extra points, but it is normal for me. And not devastating.
Because I embrace the “extras” file.
The extras file is a separate file on my laptop where I put sentences, paragraphs, or, in this case, entire chapters that may not fit or be the best for a particular writing project. That’s it. And it works wonders for me.
You can do this too. Just open an extras file on your computer. Then, take the section of writing, you know, the part that might need to be killed but which you are afraid to kill because what if you’re wrong and oh my god you lost that suddenly priceless piece of writing, and then your career would be over, take that part and cut-and-paste that bad boy into the extras files. Then hit save, go back to your main file, and move on.
If you have never tried this and have a problem section of a project, one that you suspect is taking your project in the wrong direction, dump it in an extras file. Okay, place it lovingly in an extras file. You will be amazed how easily you can move on knowing your potential piece of brilliance is safely tucked away should you need it.
Wanna know a secret?
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred you will never need it. You will move on, finish your project, edit it, proofread, rewrite, and so on. You will publish it, release it to the world and it will be what it is going to be, all without that important bit. And then you will be perfectly fine with deleting the extras file or renaming it and filing it away if that is safer for you.
And then on to the next project, and a new extras file, with confidence and safety, and, yeah, still the occasional sudden jolt awake. The process is the process is the process.
Write on, brothers and sisters. Write on.