I’ve been writing fiction for many years and have finally come to the conclusion that to keep my creativity flowing, I have to work on several projects at one time.
And now that I’ve had the happy experience of being under contract, it’s even more imperative that I work on more than one project at a time. Right now, I’ve got one short story set in galley that has to be proofread, another going through contracted edits and another on an editor’s desk. Besides that, I have a full-length in first draft stage that came up quite a bit short in the word count, so I have to plot out and add in new scenes to make that longer, and I’m also plotting out a new full-length, post Civil War romance.
As a freelance fiction writer, you can spend years plotting out, writing, revising and editing a book, then another couple of years trying to sell it. And, as in the case of my July release, Erin’s Rebel, you sometimes have to stop submitting and revise it yet again before you can make that sale. So, is it any wonder that you can’t just work on one project at a time? Not only is there the question of how to make any money that way, but how can you establish a following if fans have to wait years between books?
In my case, I have one release this July, followed by another in September, as well as an anthology release in July as well. And this is the direct result of working on more than one project at once.
But as my mother-in-law said when I told her I was working on two books at once, “How can you do that and not get them mixed up?”
The key for me is to keep everything compartmentalized. I have a certain time of day set aside just for writing projects. No matter what else I have to do that day, I use this time for writing. My time is right after my lunch break. For the next hour and a half I work on one or more of my writing projects and nothing else. And I can split that time, depending on the number of projects that require attention. Like right now, I’m working with my editor on edits for my new vampire story, but I’m also plotting out that post Civil War novel. Since I have two weeks to edit a short story only eight chapters long, I divided the task into two chapters a day, which gets the job done in a week instead of two, so if something else important pops up, I’ll have plenty of time to work it in. This way, I still have an hour to work on the plot of the book.
I also make lists of long-term projects I want to complete. For instance, I want to finish my outline by the end of this month. Next month, I plan to put that aside and get back to the first draft I’ve already written, and plot out and write new scenes for that, then give the full a revision. And I plan to write the first draft of the newly plotted story over the summer months.
The main thing is, by switching among different projects, I never get stuck. If I come up against a wall in one project, I can just switch to another and this usually works the block out on the first. It also helps fuel my imagination.
So, if you’ve been working on only one project at a time, try adding a second, then a third and see if it works for you. How many writing projects are you currently working on?