In some ways a weekly serial is good because you know you have to have something every week, in other ways a weekly serial isn’t so good because you’ve got to have something every week. There isn’t time for writer’s block, there is rarely time for as much editing as you would like and if you do get blocked… Oh dear.
This is why I’ve learnt you need to be weeks ahead of your posting dates. It sounds like common sense but when you’ve got your buffer and then get blocked or have a lot of work that prevents you from spending as much time writing the serial as you’d like it’s easy for those episodes to tick away until you only have one or two left. No matter how hard you try to stay ahead there will probably be weeks where you’re running around screaming because you don’t feel prepared and the deadline’s coming up.
More than once I’ve been panicking because a story doesn’t seem quite right before an eleventh hour idea has saved it. Though I’m not always happy with my fine editing and find places I feel I could’ve done better.
An alternate method I’ve heard of but have yet to try is writing the whole serial in advance so there’s a complete draft. This might work further down the line but as this is my first weekly serial and my site had only been up a month I didn’t have the time to write a complete draft first. I’m not sure having the ending before you begin is something you need to worry about, although as I get closer I might change my mind, but the past six months I’ve been learning as I go. Perhaps when I move on to the next serial, as the site will have been running longer and I’ll have more experience, I might try having a complete draft before I start publishing. Perhaps this would free up time and take the pressure off but I’ve always been a seat of the pants writer. There’s also the possibility that more time to think means more time to worry yourself about what people will think when you publish an episode. This is always a worry with anything you write, every writer wants their readers to enjoy what they’ve written and time saved writing the story might become time spent tinkering with something that it perfectly good to begin with. So, in the end there might not be any time gain at all.
As I said though, the problem with writing your serial a few weeks ahead of publication is that thought that you could’ve done better with more time or sections where you think you could’ve written more. I think in hindsight I would’ve written more material for the 1838 section and I would’ve started the story in a different place, I might even have started it earlier, perhaps even in 1837. However, I console myself with the notion all these ideas could lead to a revised and extended edition. There’s also the thought that when I get to the end I might answer all these possible questions.
That’s the problem with writing a weekly serial as you go. You really don’t know until you get to the end.
At least, I hope I know.