Writers’ secrets: creative multi-tasking

An innocent-looking notebook

Now that I’m approaching what I hope are the final stages of writing The French Heir, something odd has happened. I had to update my work password yesterday, and my thoughts were evidently not stuck in the present but had jumped ahead, not for the first time, because I found myself concocting a password based on where I think Pitkirtly XVIII will go.I say ‘concocting’ because of course you can’t just use real words for a password these days. It has to have an ugly-looking mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols and ideally will be almost impossible to remember or to type accurately.

Anyway, this is just to reassure people that I am indeed quietly starting to think about Pitkirtly XVIII even while progressing at a stately pace towards the end of the current novel. Unusually for me, I’ve created a plot outline for The French Heir that now takes up 15 pages of my notebook instead of the usual two paragraphs. There are 6 parts in the novel, and as I finish writing each part I’ve been deciding what will go in the next one. I am now on Part 6 so the end is definitely in sight! As long as I can avoid changing any of the characters’ names again, it will be fine. I have a good idea of how it ends.

Inside – an even messier ‘plan’ than usual…

Again quite unusually, I have ideas for the next 3 Pitkirtly novels and the germ of an idea for another ‘Heir’ one that has somewhat unexpectedly developed out of something that happened in this one. I can’t remember writing down anything for the 3 Pitkirtlies but I am almost certain I won’t forget what they are. In any case, in the context of writing, if you forget an idea for a book, for instance if you think of something in the middle of the night and can’t be bothered to write it down and you’ve forgotten it by morning, then it wasn’t really worth remembering.

If it stays in your head for long enough to mean you start working out where to start – and sometimes even drafting the opening sentences, something else I often think about in the middle of the night – then the story should be viable. That’s my theory anyway!

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