How to Write More: The Shelving Process

Writing Blog Post

The Shelving Process.

When it comes to writing, us creatives are, well, creative. We have so many ideas flying around that it can be hard to keep it straight. But in the defense of productivity, we need to utilize a process called shelving.

I don’t know if Shelving is a real thing, but it is for me and I made it up for my own peace of mind. Others may call it something else, but that is what I have chosen to call it. The definition of Shelving is taking something, usually a project, dream, or idea and putting it on the shelf for the time being until it can be taken down again in it’s proper time and used or achieved.

When I write, I often have inspiration that comes for completely different stories, novels, etc. It could be a snippet, it could be an entire outline, or it could be a synopsis. From this can come great confusion and for years, instead of sticking with what was in front of me, I would hop around on these random ideas, always telling myself I would finish them at some point. But, let’s be honest. That sometime never came and a lot of them remain unfinished. My new method is to shelve these random ideas and continue working on the project that I am knee deep in.

Jumping around really isn’t all that productive, at least, not for me. I make sure I write these random ideas or stories down so that they are not forever lost to me, but once that is done, I shelve them. I put them away and let them go to the back of my brain to be used later. That way, they don’t infringe on my current WIP (work in progress) and I am able to focus, but the possibilities of those ideas are still there and they definitely have the ability to become full fledged novels etc.

This actually works for me when it comes to finished works as well. I tell this story because it was instrumental in the quality of my first published novel, London In The Dark. After finishing the rough draft, I shelved the whole project for 6 -8 months while I worked on other projects, namely a teen novel which is yet to be published. Giving myself the distance really helped me to detach my emotions from the current story and to open my mind to the possibility of changing it for the better. If I hadn’t taken that break, I don’t know if I would have been open to some of the needs my book had. There were holes in the story, and when I was in the ecstasy of accomplishing my first draft , I wouldn’t have noticed them. 8 months later, I was able to read it with a fresh set of eyes and approach it logically, knowing that there were quite a few things that needed to be re-written.

Shelving can be incredibly useful. In the case of writing, it gives us the ability to put away all the shiny new ideas and to focus on the one that is important in this moment. In the editing stages, it can really clear all the cobwebs and help us to focus on our stories in the whole with a clear mind.

Have you ever used the Shelving method?

By God’s Grace,

Victoria

5 thoughts on “How to Write More: The Shelving Process

  1. Ah yes! Shelving is something I learned about on Go Teen Writers several years ago. Putting part-way written and certain drafts away can be so helpful, even when I don’t exactly feel like it sometimes. 🙂

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  2. I’ve done that! For At Her Fingertips, it had to sit from November 2017 until almost a year later before I could look it in the eye. Mostly because I liked it so much that I knew I wasn’t gonna be unbiased. But then after I read it – having “shelved it” – it was full of mistakes! (Where did those come from?) But I was also more excited about it, so it went easier!

    So … yes, I see what you mean! 🙂

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  3. I’m a finisher by nature, so writing down the random ideas that pop into my head, and “shelving” them until I’m done with my current project isn’t a method for me so much as what I naturally do. Now I have a name for it. 🙂

    As for shelving a finished project for 6-8 months before editing…I hope I’ll actually get to do that someday! 😛 Out of the three stories I’ve finished, two were short stories for just-for-fun contests on writing sites, and then there was Moonsilver for the Rooglewood contest. Because of the deadlines for all of those contests, I was only able to set the stories aside for a maximum of a week or two before having to start edits, which wasn’t my preference, but I did my best to not think about them at all during that short time away and just made myself pretend I was a reader rather than the writer when I came back to them. All things considered, I think I caught more issues with them having waited a week or two before editing, but I KNOW I would have caught way more if I’d been able to set them aside for several months instead. I’m actually looking forward to seeing how I do with editing something I haven’t looked at in that long. But, I have to finish something that doesn’t have a deadline first, so I better get to writing! 😉

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