I'm working on a little book right now (just an ebook) for scientists on how to improve their writing. With the amount of editing I do, I noticed they tended to make the same mistakes over and over again, probably because scientists get very little training in how to write despite the fact that they're expected to publish research articles almost continuously.
So as I edited, I started keeping notes on these errors. Then I pulled together an outline from these notes, and lately I've just been chugging away at the actual writing of each chapter.
It's kind of fun and it's coming along! I've finished the first draft of the Introduction, the chapters on how to write in the active voice and other little "secrets" of good writing, like varying your word choice, and last night I more or less completed the first draft of the grammar section. Now all that remains is a few chapters on the best method for writing a research article, how to format a manuscript for submission, some basic Microsoft Word tricks that really make writing and editing so much easier, etc.
And as I was taking stock of what work remained, and congratulating myself on how far I had come, I thought to check my old notes for these upcoming chapters.
Lo and behold, I discovered I'd already written the method chapter! I'd completely forgotten about it, but while I was taking those notes, I got on a roll one day and slammed out ~1000 words on that section.
Copy and paste? Don't mind if I do.
I tend to do this a lot. I write things, and then I forget all about them. Usually it's a problem. I know I've needlessly re-written chapters of my sci-fi novel several times over only because I forgot where I was in the thread of the story. It's hard to keep track of these things when I'm often overwhelmed with editing work and have to put the writing on hold for a while.
But sometimes this little habit of mine comes in handy, like last night, when I was staring down the barrel of another chapter to write, and then 30 seconds later realizing I'd already done that work!
Anyway, I'm really looking forward to finishing the first draft of this book so I can do I a little editing to spruce it up, then give it to my beta readers (i.e., my husband and my mom), and finally get this project finished. That's been my theme lately - just finish.
I have so many writing projects I want to work on, I decided the most efficient thing I could do is finish up the ones that are in progress right now. So I published another short story on Amazon. I'm also finally finishing the editing on my practice novel, which I set aside for a little while because things got busy while I was starting the editing business. When that book's done I'll post it on Amazon too (because it's fun to get a buck or two every now and then from your writing and to see that people actually read your stories to the end!). Now I'm finishing up this science writing book and once that's done, then I'll have the time to focus on my close to completed (but not quite) NaNoWriMo project from last year.
Then I'll have a decision to make in terms of what novel I want to work on next. There's my sci-fi story I've been thinking about and writing/rewriting for several years now, but I've got other ideas too that might be a little simpler and more at my skill level. Then there's always my little book on organic chemistry (I love little books), which again, might make a good Amazon ebook. Decision, decisions...
This is why I wish I could write full time. I hate having to choose my writing projects based on efficiency, but I also want to be smart about it. When you have limited time to write, you've got to make that time count.
How are your writing projects going these days? Are you spread thin? Or are you better at focusing on starting and finishing a single story at a time. Honestly, I'm undecided about which way is better. It's nice to switch tasks when I get stuck on one project, but the tendency to never finish anything longer than a short story is also much higher.