Writing – Are you a butterfly or a mole?

Writing - Are you a butterfly or a mole?

Is it better to flutter from project to project?


At the moment, I am questioning whether I am using the best strategy for my writing career.  I am adopting the butterfly method whereby I flit from children’s fiction to children’s plays to adult fiction.  (By adult fiction, I don’t mean X rated stuff, I simply mean books for adults.  The reason I am explaining this is that I had an embarrassing incident years ago when donating videos to my child’s school fair.  All the ones I had seen donated were videos for children, so I asked if they accepted adult ones – the teaching assistant thought I meant porn and coloured highly when I thrust my “Pride and Prejudice into her hand.)

I am a writing butterfly, I flicker back and forth working on both adult and children’s fiction and I wonder whether I would be more effective if I was a mole, digging and focusing on one tunnel or book until I had reach my goal.

Being a butterfly has its positive aspects in that it keeps the writing schedule fresh and lively.  It also means that if children think my kids’ stuff reeks, their mothers’ might like my physic detective.  In other words, I’m not putting all my eggs into one basket as the old saying goes.

I do feel that being a butterfly has its negative side especially when it comes to marketing.  It means trying to interest two sets of audience, which as any writer knows attracting a single one can be tough going, initially.  It also means that I constantly have more than one plot, setting and set of characters going around in my head which can be like living inside a bee hive at times.

When I talk about being a mole, I must clarify that I mean someone who works on a particular novel but also has a blog and writes articles etc…   I don’t mean that they only work on the novel they are writing at the time and nothing else whatsoever.  The positive side to being a mole is that we can concentrate wholly on the piece we are working on, we might have ideas for future books in our heads but if it is a series with the same main character, it all helps to know this person better.  I think it is the same with marketing, if we are sticking mainly to say writing vampire stories for adults, we can aim all our marketing energy into the one market; the output is far better targeted than that of the butterfly writer.

The negative side to being a mole writer is that the writing atmosphere could become a little staid for the writer after a period of time.  Fundamentally, I think that the main problem is that if the mole concentrates for instance, completely on a series with an alien detective and it flops, the mole needs to start again; obviously, this is not a problem if the series is a hit.

I have to say that as a butterfly writer, I do question whether I would be better off being a mole.  So what are you and is this because you have a strategy or is it because it is the only way for you to write?

Writing - Are you a butterfly or mole?

Being focused hits the spot.


Filed under Creative Writing, Inspiration and Us

29 responses to “Writing – Are you a butterfly or a mole?

  1. I do the butterfly method. I have two novellas on the go, a blog and the potential beginnings of a weekly podcast.

    Still, I do all these various things to stop myself from hitting the dreaded writers block. If I concentrate on just one area and I run out of inspiration, I can just flit over to another area and continue writing.

    • It sounds as if that really works for you – it is a good way to overcome writer’s block. Have you always worked like that or did you find it was the best way for you after trying other ways?

      • I didn’t always used to approach my writing in this way.

        I’d always write with the idea that I had to work on ‘One Big Project’. Thing is, the development of a story ebbs and flows, but I wanted to write consistently. Make my writing a daily habit.

        So having different things to work on, meant I would always have something to write each morning. Ever since I took this approach, I no longer find myself falling into lengthy bouts of writers block.

      • You’re making me feel better because I was sort of worrying about being a butterfly but I think that this must be why I mostly feel quite inspired because I don’t get too worn down by one project.

  2. This is awesome! I think I’m a butterfly/mole. Although I have only written one children’s book, I go back and forth between what would be considered ya and adult. I think it makes me a little anxious to feel confined,BUT I also think it’s good to be able to focus on one thing. I suppose it depends on the person, said person’s focus and maybe even looking at what they’re better at writing? I love this. Gets me to thinkin’! THaNks 🙂

    • Thank you very much – I wondered if there were butterfly/moles out there. I think this is probably the best way to be and thinking about it, I am butterfly for ages and then when a project is coming to fruition, I become a mole. Is this what happens with you?

      • Something like that!! When I am only a few chapters in to finishing a novel, I become a mole. (I really love the analogy, by the way) 🙂 Up until that near finishing point, I am a butterfly, and that is the best way for me to not get writer’s block or get antsy. When you are in “butterfly” mode, do you find it easier to overcome or avoid writer’s block altogether?

      • Yes, I think that being in butterfly mode when doing first drafts definitely helps avoid the writer’s block because whilst we are working on one project our subconscious is merrily working away on another project. When we come back to it, it flows much easier.

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself. That is exactly how I feel. Love it!

  3. I’m definitely a mole. However, I regularly get ideas for other books that I have waiting in the wings, so that in essence I’m building the frameworks of other stories while actively engaged in one story.

    But I’m also a bit of an extreme example, as I have been working on my current novel for almost 10 years. I cannot seem to walk away from it, even when I have other stories that I could write. I haven’t figured out what my relationship is with this book, although some would say it’s probably unhealthy, lol.

    I think it’s probably good to be a little of both, butterfly and mole, and to be able to attend to the projects that need you the most, when they need you the most.

    • The adult novel I am working on now has actually been about four different stories – the idea began about fifteen years ago and I think I have finally found out what I want it to be. So I know exactly where you are coming from. Do you leave off from it for periods at a time or is it always an ongoing thing?

  4. I think I can safely say I’m a fluttermole! Sometimes I flitter. sometimes I dig myself in! 🙂

  5. Oh, I’m definitely a butterfly. Not only am I obviously dashingly beautiful like the butterfly… what? 😛 Also, I definitely flitter between what I’m writing. I can’t ever stay on one thing for too long. What cool analogies! x

  6. I’m another fluttermole. Like mlfables I wanted to get into the habit of writing everyday, so I tend to work on several WIP at once. It also prevents me from getting stuck on just one genre. I do, however, much prefer to write for children, even though I write fiction for adults in German (but not in English, curiously). I prefer to get ideas down and then just run with it – it can always be changed later, but at least it’s there and not forgotten.

    Can somebody please draw a fluttermole for us?

    • These fluttermoles are intriguing. I’m also interested in why you write fiction for adults in German but not in English – if it occurs to you at some stage why you do this, will you let me know please? Also, if you have been writing an article, do you find it easy to switch to fiction within a short time- say half an hour? Are there any cartoonists out there who can draw fluttermoles?

      • I’m still pondering why I write German language fiction for adults rather than kids – it’s a mystery to me. As I write articles for a living, I find it very easy – in fact relaxing – to switch to fiction within moments. i don’t have access to my scanner at present, so the fluttermole picture will have to wait until after 10th october, when I’m back in my room – am camping at the moment, brr, perishingly cold. Two sleeping bags last night, but great fun all the same.

      • The instant the puzzle over the German fiction for adult occurs to you, let me know because it’s fascinating me. It is wonderful that you can flick from writing articles to fiction within seconds. I think I might write a post along this line at one point – if I do can I refer to you? Are you going to surprise me with a fluttermole? – Can’t wait. I know you say that it’s fun camping but do be careful with your health. Big hugs.

      • I shall start drawing fluttermoles this very afternoon – and practice until I get it right. Haven’t had so much fun in ages – my new camping cooker is being tested to within an inch of its little life. Wished I was fitter though – crawling in and out of my dome-tent is quite troublesome at my age. Ah, the creaky old bones and joints. Will keep you posted on the German lingo thing, if I ever figure it out.

      • I can’t wait to see what you come up with. When Will was little we used to go to the beach and cook on it with a camping cooker sometimes. Glad you’re having fun.

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