I've been working on a fantasy series for the past few years. When I first started, I wrote my first draft (for the first book) in one go without any planning at all. Even though I enjoyed myself, once I was done I felt like the book wasn't good enough and could have benefited from planning.
I let the story marinate in my head for a few years, and ended up getting a bunch of new ideas that meant the first draft would have to change completely (basically, only the genre and characters remained the same).
But I should add that, though I felt I wasted my time writing the first draft, it was beneficial because I got to know the characters, and I don't think I would have reached this point if I had started planning from the beginning, without having done any writing.
When I picked up the story again I decided to focus more on planning and less on writing (as I didn't want to spend time writing material that could become outdated when I got better ideas).
However, I still spend time writing when I am inspired by a scene and feel like I absolutely have to get it out on paper (which happens often). So right now, my current system is to focus on planning (in terms of story arcs and characters arcs) and only write when inspired.
The problem is:
- writing is fun, but planning gets boring after a while, unless I jot down a few scenes in the process
- the ideas I come up with while planning seem good at first, but I sometimes have much better ideas when writing, or when I am inspired on the fly. The ideas I came up with while planning seem predictable in comparison.
I don't want to stop planning because I jump around a lot and write scenes from different books in the series, and things get really confusing.
Also, there are some things I can do while planning that are much harder to do while writing, such as:
figuring out the order of events
which conflicts happen in what order
how the events of each novel flow together
when characters should be introduced
how character relationships progress
how characters develop
My main question is: how do I stay engaged while planning, and how do I strike a balance between planning and writing while still making meaningful progress?