Hi, everyone. :o)
Lately, I've been busy editing book two. My kitchen table is covered with many handwritten notes that need slipping into place in the manuscript, to ready for typing up. This task has been made more difficult as the pile of scribbled notes dropped and got mixed up. They usually live in Ikea box files but I left them in a pile overnight on the living room table, yup, big mistake. But, all is well as I mentally prepare myself for the paper battle. :o)
While writing book two, another story flowed from the muse. I tried to ignore the visuals that played over in my mind, but they refused to remain silent. So there it is, I got side-tracked for a while on outlining 'Shining Sword', a story that will compliment the series and follow the future path of book two, so it is in fact, very relevant. I'm itching to start the manuscript but must stay focused on editing 'Awake in Purple Dreams'. It has been tough ignoring the temptation to start writing, though. Has anyone else had this experience?
I decided to google the question of writing two books at once. Below are what other authors have experienced.
“I’m currently working on two novels – one is the sequel to a finished book that is currently looking for a publisher. The other is a project that is very much in my mind at the moment and won’t wait its turn! The first is about 42k words done and the second is only a couple of thousand words written, but I’ve been making extensive notes and plans. As the 42k project is the sequel to something currently before publishers, I’m making that my priority, and trying not to be too distracted by the other one. But when ideas won’t leave you alone, you have to at least make notes and rough outlines of scenes. So I would say that I’m working properly on one novel while working part-time on the other!” Alan Baxter, dark fantasy author.Write them all. I have two I’m working on now. I’ve had as many as 4 at a time in my head. You have to let the ideas out.@lynnleite
Make an idea book where you can take a little time to put down info about the ideas you aren’t ready to work on. @druchunas
Plot them all, write chapter-by-chapter summaries and then go back to writing just one. That or work 24/7 til they’re done. @graywave
Keep feeding all 3 until 1 takes the lead (attention, energy). Then focus on that one, get to others afterwards. Good luck!@MsMartha_writer
What I always do in that situation is write down key events, maybe write a full scene, so you can go back to it later. @NatashaMcNeely
The strategy of writing one book in the morning and revising another book in the evening is intriguing.
It usually takes me four months to write a first draft. For the last couple of months I grow wearing of writing and pine to revise. Then it takes me about a year to revise. After a couple of months, I yearn to write a new story. I wonder if working on two books at once would be more satisfying. It will then take me eight months to write a rough and two more years to edit. Yeah, I'll have two books done instead of just one, but the long time spans are intimidating.
I have several books currently in progress. In fact, I've found I'm usually working on multiple books at the same time. I usually don't work on more than one in a day, though. I'll work one for a while, drop it if I have to work some issues out and pick up one of the others.
Sometimes it works wonderfully and sometimes I have to completely re-read things and get back into the saddle of one of the ones I've set aside for a while.
I used to be a one-book-at-a-time writer, but gradually I'm shifting into having multiple projects going at the same time. This can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. One is simply that you'll have a variety of things to work on and hopefully won't get bored as easily. Another reason is, inevitably, you'll have projects at different stages of completion. Say you get a book published; if you only do one at a time, well, your readers then might have to wait a looong time to see another one from you. But if you've already been working that project, maybe the rough draft is done and you're already well into the revisions. They won't have to wait as long for it to be published.
One book about writing novels I read suggested that you should have at least three projects going at any one time. Ideally, once you've been working for awhile, one should be querying for an agent or with an agent; another in the revision stages; and a third in the rough draft/first draft stages.
One of the positive things about having several unfinished works in progress at the same time is if you get bored or blocked with one, you can work on another. You don't have to risk poorer writing if you're just not into something, or risk dropping it and not writing for a while.
I've got two novels that I'm writing at the moment, another that's requiring significantly more planning and research that I'll hopefully start once these two have first drafts finished. The two I have going at the moment have such different voices and genres that the chances of me not wanting to work on at least one of them is slim to none.
This is a really good point. I usually work on one project at a time but like others have said, I'm in the mood to write when I'm revising and to revise when I'm writing. I might start thinking more about the future and try to find a way to juggle that second project.
I find that the very act of writing lets me come up with more things to write about. I'll be working on one story, I'll hit a dead end and the process of deciding where I want to go next creates alternative ideas. These ideas often broil together into entirely new plot ideas or story premises.
Just from the act of writing my last two novels, I have about five new stories in several different genres, including ghosts, pirates, sci-fi, fantasy, romance and general fiction.
Uncle Barry’s Formula for Writing Multiple Books at Once
- Your projects must all be vastly different from each other: If you’re working on more than one book at a time, it’s deadly to have them be similar. Look at it this way — say you’re writing a dystopian novel. And at the same time, you’re working on another dystopian novel…but it’s just a different kind of dystopia. Well, I think you see the problem. When you get burned out on one, the other one is no safe haven. They’re different books, but they’re too similar. They use the same psychic muscles. Make your projects distinct from one another and each one will act as a sort of safety valve for the others. Bored with that thriller you’re working on? Skip over to the romantic comedy for a little while!
- Always be at a different stage on each project: Again, this is about overworking muscles. Starting a book uses a different set of mental abilities than editing one or cruising to the end of one or researching one. So stagger your projects. At the beginning of 2010, I was revising my graphic novel script. At the same time, though, I was deep into the first draft of The Book That Will Kill Me. And I was researching I Hunt Killers. Later in the year, I was halfway through the first draft of Killers when I started writing the second Archvillain. Simultaneously, I was overseeing Colleen’s art on the graphic novel and headed toward the end of a draft of The Book That Will Kill Me. Once again, each book acted as a pressure release for all the others. No matter what I was working on, it was different and varied from what I had just been working on earlier that day or week.
- Turn everything in early: This is a tough one for many authors, who have difficulty meeting their deadlines already. But I swear to you, it matters. When you have so many projects on your plate, it’s inevitable that two or more deadlines are going to overlap or conflict. This means that if you slip on one deadline, you’ll put multiple projects in jeopardy. And if you think being in the weeds on one book is bad, try it on many! In order to keep yourself honest and to prevent a total meltdown, turn in everything early. Set your own deadlines that are well in advance of the official ones and follow your deadlines, no one else’s.
- Let no one else dictate your schedule: Closely linked to #4, obviously. But it’s important enough to call out on its own. In addition to not letting anyone else dictate a deadline to you, you also can’t allow anyone else’s whims to stall you in developing a project. Here’s an example: Say you have just turned a new book to your editor. You have another project you’d like to get started on, but your editor has told you that she will get back to you on the first book in a couple of weeks. You think to yourself, “Well, I won’t make much progress on the new project in just a couple of weeks, so I’ll wait to hear from my editor and THEN I’ll start on the new one.” No! Odds are, it will take longer than a couple of weeks for your editor to get back to you. And even if it IS just a couple of weeks, that’s still time you’re wasting, time when you could make at least some progress on the new project. So plunge into the new project and let your editor get back to you whenever she can.
- Be flexible: When I work on multiple projects, I tell myself, “OK, by this point in time, I need to have made X amount of progress on these three projects.” And so on. I manage to stick to that pretty well. But writing a bunch of books at once isn’t the easiest thing in the world, so you need to be flexible. Allow yourself to spend an extra few days on something if you’re really feeling it. Give yourself a week off to play Xbox if you’re starting to feel dangerously loopy. If you work on comedy in the morning and drama in the afternoon, switch it up every now and then in order to give yourself a break. Flexibility will keep you from cracking up entirely.
Love and light,