I'm all fired up about my new WIP (though I don't know how long I can refer to it as "new"--I guess it's just my WIP now), but I recently had a little bump in my path. I started questioning whether YA was the best genre for this story. I asked myself, "Self, would this be better as a tween book?" And I didn't think it would. Truly. But I wasn't sure. Of course, changing the genre would change my story quite a bit--not only the voice but so much of what actually happens. You know, the big stuff. The thing is, once you ask yourself that question, you have to be really open to the answer.
I went through my outline knowing that if my story could be Six Million Dollar Man-ified (rebuilt better, stronger, faster--wow, I'm so dating myself...uh, my grandma told me about that show), it would be the thing to do. We, after all, want to write the best books we can. So I experimented.
In addition to noting necessary changes to my outline, I wrote the chapter I was working on at the time with a thirteen-year-old protagonist. Then I wrote the same chapter the way I'd started the manuscript, with my sixteen-year-old protagonist. I played with various scenes both ways to get a broad and detailed sense of the story. I feel a big difference between thirteen and sixteen--and so many little differences that add up to a character's voice. It was interesting but stressful, having this sudden uncertainty. Still, I'd rather play with it now when I'm less than halfway through the first draft. Of course I have plenty of revision ahead regardless, but if I can nail the genre now, it will be much easier to revise later. So I looked hard at the YA books I've been reading, talked to a librarian, asked an agent at the conference about genres, and thought about the story I want to tell.
To make a long story less long, I, in my heart of hearts, now know this book is YA, and I'm pushing forward, glad I experimented and more confident in my outline. I'm also slightly changing my writing goals to be more productive. Rather than putting in a certain amount of time each day, I'm shooting for a specific amount of pages. I'll let you know how that works for me. Something else I'm trying in the name of productivity: I now have to earn my email.* Eep! I won't allow myself to check my email until I finish my writing for the day. I told the critique partner who suggested this, "I can't do that! I have submissions out!" She said the cool thing about email is it will all still be sitting in my inbox when my work is done. And you know what? She's right. Those crit partners...so wise and willing to give you an extra push when you need one. :)
So how's your writing schedule? Is it just right or would you benefit by pushing yourself a little harder? In the comments, feel free to write something you'd like to try (or something you've already tried and found helpful) to make your writing time more productive. Otherwise, you can place bets on how long you think I can succeed at/survive this no email while I'm working thing.
*Unless it's critique group day (I have to be aware of last minute changes, especially since we often carpool) or a weekend. That means I'm allowed to run to my computer at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday if I choose to do so. The thing is, why would I?