As you may have gathered from my posts, I have a LOT of writing projects in mind.
I usually have at least two going at a time, with one story undergoing edits and a newer one that I’m in the process of writing. Additionally, I might be doing the initial outlining for a project I’m planning to work on in the near future and jotting down vague ideas for projects I could potentially write someday. I’m expecting to add going over beta reader feedback and gearing up for querying agents to the mix in the coming months.
And then there’s also this blog, which is a never-ending project in itself.
My brain is a busy place.
Writers are often told to focus on one project alone and get it perfected, and only worry about writing the next thing once you have started querying literary agents or have made all of the arrangements to self-publish. While I did go by this at first, I’ve since discovered it doesn’t work as well for me.
I started Guises to Keep when I was fourteen, and that was my sole project until my senior year of college when I participated in a travel course to London and wrote Bound to the Heart as part of the research project for the class.
That was the first time I let myself work on a fiction project other that Guises to Keep, apart from much smaller assignments for classes that didn’t require a lot of time. At that point, Guises to Keep was in edits and was still being worked on ahead of weekly meetings and exchanges with my critique partner, but Bound to the Heart was my central focus.
Working on something brand new was refreshing. I missed the sense of freedom I had back in high school when I was just writing for fun, literally writing a novel on a whim. While the circumstances were a bit different for Bound to the Heart which was essentially a graded assignment because of the research, essay, binding the finished story as a physical book, and class presentation that accompanied it, it was the first time in a while that I had written just to write. No page counts. No requirements. It was a project I had designed by myself and, in a lot of ways, for myself.
For years before, I had operated on the idea that I would be a one-hit wonder, that Guises to Keep would be the only thing I would ever write that would be publishable. Bound to the Heart was the thing that made me cast that idea out the window without so much of a single glance back. It’s a thought I laugh at now considering how many ideas I’ve developed over the years since.
The fact that I have so many ideas is one of the reasons I have come to enjoy, but there are a few others as well, and that’s what this post is all about!
An Infinitum Of Ideas
Perhaps the biggest reason I work on multiple things at one time is because of the sheer number of ideas I have. For every book I’ve written, I have at least three more ideas I could pounce on at any point. They’re not fleshed out enough to be complete stories at the snap of a finger, but they are enough for me to begin playing around with the concepts.
This often happens because the thing I’m writing might introduce a character I decide could make a good protagonist down the road or the research I’m doing for one thing might spark an interest in something else that could lead to another project.
Having so many ideas is great, but the excitement can be distracting at times. I actually pushed back working on Forged in the Salle for a year because I was so eager to write Against His Vows even though that one is set afterwards.
Flipping between writing and editing gives me the ability to explore these new ideas while polishing up longstanding ones.
Progress is Progress
Working on multiple projects means I am able to make progress on all of those things. Limiting myself to one project at a time means that all of my attention is not as appealing to me because it feels limiting. I feel more efficient dividing my time between multiple projects.
I would rather make minimal progress on two writing projects than twice as much on one alone.
It might not be the result one might expect in bouncing between projects, but I’ve actually found that shifting from one thing to the next actually keeps me focused.
When I’m drafting a new chapter, I find that the longer I spend on it, the longer it seems to take. This isn’t to say I get bored with the scene or the story, but I do start feeling like the process is dragging on.
Giving myself a break and a chance to work on something different lets me come back with fresh eyes, sometimes making it easier for me to figure out what I need to do to finish a scene or catch a previously unseen mistake in editing.
What I Want, When I Want
This one could change if I am published and become a full-time author, at which point it would not be inconceivable to assume I would have stricter deadlines that I do right now, but at this point in time having the flexibility to work on whatever projects I want when I want to makes things easier to manage, in part because I’m able to adjust my plans based on my headspace.
Some days I might sit down at my computer with every intention of editing but realize I’m at an energy level that better lands itself to writing blog posts. I also know I tend to have an easier time writing new fiction at night.
Having options available instead of only one thing to work on allows me to make the most of my time because I can adjust my plans based on what I know about myself and my habits as a writer.
I know multitasking isn’t for everyone. Some writers do better when they focus on a single project rather than moving between realms. The thing about writing is that there is no single method for doing the job, and part of becoming skilled in the art is figuring out which way of doing things suits you best.
Like I often say, know thyself and know thyself as a writer.