Way back when, I remember talking to an author who wrote both fiction and nonfiction. I think it may have been Gary Blackwood but don’t hold me to that. He told me that when he researched and wrote about a nonfiction topic he worked on a fiction story or book that dealt with the same subject. That way he could work on nonfiction until his brain cried “no more!” and then switch over to fiction.
I’ve been doing something similar for the past two weeks. I have to work on the Zika virus manuscript because I have a deadline with Red Line. I have to work on Iron Mountain (my working title) because I want to show it to one of my writing buddies at an upcoming retreat.
First, I work on my nonfiction. I struggle and slog and slap down a first draft of whatever chapter I’m working on that day. There are 8 in all and I have 1.5 to go. Between subheadings, sidebars and bubble quotes, there are about 10 sections per chapter. By the time I’ve finished my chapter for the day I’ve pretty well had it. Fortunately that’s usually about dinner time.
Then after the boy goes to bed and my husband is washing dishes (thank you!), I work on my fiction. Some nights I only write a page. Other nights I write closer to three. I’ve got 12 pages at this point. Not a lot but a whole lot more than I had two weeks ago when I was stuck at 2 pages.
Alternating between fiction and nonfiction, I’m more productive most days than I ‘ve been in quite a while. I wondered if I was the only person that this worked for but then I read a blog post by Cat Scully, Tricking Myself. Cat is a writer and illustrator. She writes until she can’t write another word and then switches over to her illustration.
If you’re hung up on a project or two, why not try this approach? After all, if it works, you’ll see your word count climbing.