One of the most common pieces of writing advice I’ve heard (besides write what you know) is write what you read. Pick a genre. Stick to it. Build a brand.
But for me, this has always posed a problem. I read in several different genres. I love a good middle grade coming of age story (which is great, since that’s what I’m currently writing). But I also love YA and am a diehard Hunger Games fan. (Go Teem Peeta!). I love adult literary novels, and every fall I crack open Richard Russo’s Empire Falls, one of my favorite novels ever. But I also love a good chick-lit story, too (although I personally hate that term). And as the mother of two boys, I’ve come to a deep and profound appreciation for the Captain Underpants series ( I mean seriously, talking toilets? Brilliant).
So while I understand the reasoning behind writing in one genre, I have a million different ideas–in a million different genres. If I’m choosing to only pursue my middle grade projects right now, what should I do with all the other Bright Shiny Ideas floating around in my head?
Enter, My Secret Project.
In the fall of 2008, before I’d even completed a first draft of Seeing Cinderella (which at the time was titled The Super Freaky Magic Glasses), I had this nagging idea for a YA project, and I started taking notes on it. I filled up one journal, then another. Then in June of 2010 while I was giving my eyes a break from my glasses story, I did my own personal NaNoWriMo and wrote about 50,000 words of a first draft. Then, while Seeing Cinderella was out on submission, I wrote another first draft, this one not quite as sucktastic (but still a looooong way from being decent). This is the story I go back to when I need a break from my official WIP. It’s my literary playground. It’s the place where I go and write tons of bad words about how one of my characters may feel about the sunset. Just because I can.
Now, as the words have built up over time, I actually have a ton of scenes in my head, and have tacked them up on a corkboard. And I’m playing with the idea that instead of this being one book, to properly do justice to both my main characters (yes, I have two) this might actually be a three book project.
This is what my corkboard looked like the first week I put it up. Now, there are several more cards tacked up there.
Who knows when or if I’ll get around to considering this my main WIP. Right now, I’m loving every minute of focusing on my middle grade projects. But whenever I feel like breaking one or two (or ten) writing “rules” I hop over to My Secret Project, and play for a while.
What about you? Do you have any secret projects or hobbies you go to when you need a break from work?