Writer to Writer: Ian Sutherland

Writer to Writer is a brief feature I’m doing in which I email a writer and ask a quick question about writing. Simple enough, right?

In today’s edition of Writer to Writer I’ve asked Ian Sutherland, author of the Brody Taylor Thriller series, how he flexes his creative muscle as a writer in between projects. I stumbled on Ian’s work after having a brief interaction with him on twitter, and reading through an article he wrote called On Writing the Dreaded Second Novel.

As someone who’s only written a first novel, I can tell you my biggest fear is committing to writing my second. It took five years for me to get that first one out, but according to Ian, it’s really a lifetime that goes into the first and at best a few years for the second. I may never even get the second novel out there. It’s tough thinking about that.

Anyway, after reading his blog, I reached out to Ian to ask how he flexes his creative muscle in between projects. The way I see it, you have to keep writing, but you don’t necessarily have to write creatively. As a fiction writer, I  want to write in vivid detail, but I don’t want to constantly rack my brain to write something I know isn’t going to go anywhere. When I get the big idea that becomes a long-term writing project, it usually starts with a simple idea that I see a lot of different angles I can start from immediately, but there’s an initial event I want to get out of the way.

So the question again: how do you flex your writing muscle between projects?

I actually do something else for a few months to allow the creative well I’ve just emptied to fill up again. I’m currently working on a non-fiction web-based project, using a different side of my brain I suppose. But as I go, I’m jotting down ideas for the next book. I can feel my subconscious slowly working things through and I’m looking forward to exploring all the ideas and then sitting down with a blank page and trying to work some of them into a decent plot. The point is I don’t force it. I’m giving myself till the end of the the year to complete this other project and then in January I intend to sit down properly to get on with the next one. But I’m already starting to feel confident I’ve got enough.

I’m sure it’s different for everyone but that’s just my approach!

Simple enough, right?

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