I'm sure a lot of writers have a specific process for working on a story. Maybe they outline before they start writing, or start at the beginning and go straight through to the end. Outlines have never really been my thing, so I've always been more of a pantser than a planner. But I think I take the pantser thing to a whole other level. Because not only do I pretty much never outline, but I don't write things in order, either.
I can honestly say the only thing I've ever worked on 100% in order from the first chapter to the last was the second draft of Uneven Lines, and that was a half edit/half rewrite. So really I've never written anything from start to finish. Why? I usually work on whichever part is inspiring me the most. Especially with a first draft, there will usually be one or two scenes that I'll keep thinking about over and over again until I actually write them down. Once they're finished, they're usually replaced by something new. It can be any part of the story, so most of the time I write out of order, but with a general idea of how things will eventually tie together.
Sometimes this strategy works, and other times it doesn't. Maybe that's why when I'm not feeling particularly inspired by anything, I don't work on anything. And not writing just seems to lead to even less inspiration, so it becomes a vicious cycle. So what do you do when you rely on that inspiration and it just isn't happening?
There are a few options. You could force yourself to work on a specific part. Maybe something you think will be easy, or just the next part of the story. Or you can just wait it out and hope for any spark of inspiration. I try to pay extra close attention to that voice of inspiration. There usually isn't a day that goes by where I'm not thinking about some aspect of my story, whether it's my main project, one of its sequels, or even just some random bit of background info on a character. I'm trying to get into the mindset of just going with the flow. No matter what part I'm thinking of, start writing.
Lately, for instance, a few scenes from Book 3 have been on my mind. When I was trying to fall asleep last night, some actual words started to pop into my head (and they weren't terrible!). So why fight it? Just because I really should be working on the first book instead? At this point I'd be thrilled to write anything, especially if it's within the universe of the story I should be working on. It would still be better than nothing.
So instead of just thinking about these other ideas, or just jotting down a note here or there, why not write a whole scene? Maybe even a whole chapter? Sure, it may be a distraction from focusing on the first book, but if I'm not actually working on it, why not take advantage of the inspiration? I've let it slip away way too many times to just not write anything. I think it would be better to write something unnecessary than to not write anything at all.
Do you write things in order? What do you do when a different project is distracting you from your main one?