Spanners and screwdrivers at the ready

Work is ongoing a-plenty on the latest novel, codenamed Project PK4. By now I’m starting to see a pattern in how I work, and this is useful in a number of ways.

  • I can stop worrying that I haven’t written any scenes of a particular work-in-progress.
  • I can get going with the specific part of the pattern I’m in, such as gathering information, or working out what has to happen in such-and-such an order.
  • I can play around with tools to help me at that particular stage.

For example, I wrote about the use of kanban for writers a little while ago. Kanban is only one tool in a project manager’s toolkit, and as every story is a project, it makes sense to see what else is in amongst the spanners and screwdrivers.

Things like:

  1. Schedule: both for the time you have available to write, and the internal story what-happens-now.
  2. Work Breakdown Structure: your expected wordcount, and the time you have available for writing all those ittybitty words.
  3. Resources: your time and knowledge; your characters and storyline.

That’s three parts to get started with, each one split in two to cover details internal to the story, and external. OnResearching my latest novel!e thing you generally can’t do as a writer (unless you’re James Patterson) is “outsource” (ack! ack! phtooey!) the work…

Maybe some time in the future I’ll be so organised this will be second nature, but for now it’s comforting to know that no, I haven’t got writer’s block, I just haven’t got the next story in the right shape to get started.

I think there’s a difference.



  1. I don’t write in anything like the order of the book.

    • Every writer is different, aren’t they? My early novels had a start, an end and nothing in the middle to guide me, and I “wrote into the dark” with just that ending like a lantern ahead.
      Even now, I don’t come up with the ideas in a linear fashion. They all just tumble out in a rush of enthusiasm, like shaking out a new jigsaw puzzle with only the picture on the box as a guide.
      At first, it’s all about finding the corners.
      Once that’s done, separating out the sides gives some idea of how big the layout is.
      After that, all I have to do is put the pieces in place, a thousand words at a time.
      (And then, of course, I realise that some pieces are in the wrong place, or upside down, or belong to an entirely different puzzle…:-))

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