Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How Many Stories Can You Write at the Same Time?

I was exhausted the other day while continuing to work on my memoir (and I'm still not done to my satisfaction yet!)  But then I found myself trying to work on another piece I had recently begun.  I was writing long hand notes for that one in bed last night, since i have not made as much progress on that one. I tried my best not to confuse the two. 

How many of you have done this? Is it easy to get wrk on more than one thing at once, and do you get easily confused?

I then found this article:

I have often written multiple books at the same time. It’s a part of life when one of your hats is professional writer. But it can also be a real part of the writing journey when you’re getting started writing. The challenge is learning how to juggle the multiple characters, plots, and timelines.  Here are a few tips I’ve developed over the years to let me do exactly that:

  • Use different music to signal to my brain that I’ve switched times/genres/etc. 

Right now I’m writing suspense to an Avengers/movie soundtrack channel I’ve built on Pandora. As soon as it comes on my brain settles down. I use different music for cozy mysteries or WWII historicals. This has worked really well for me over time which is why I listed it first. There’s something about the music that lets my mind know immediately which book to focus on in that moment. 

  • Always stop mid scene so I can easily get back into what I was thinking when I stopped writing.

One way to smooth out this process of transitioning from book to book is to make a few bullet point notes of where I saw the scene heading before I end for the day. That alone saves a lot of time and helps me get started quickly when I start the next day or week or whenever I can come back to the story. It also allows me to end knowing that I know where to begin, alleviating the blank page syndrome.

  • Edit what I wrote the day before to get back into the story flow.

This is a great way to get right back into the story. It also helps me to let go of the editing details while I’m writing. If I know I’m going to come back the next day and clean up the spelling and grammar issues, it lets me focus on words on the page. It also helps me get immediately back into the story.

  • Occasionally I will alternate days, but I don’t always have the luxury.

My friend Lenora Worth does something like this consistently. I loved how she put it:
When I’m working on more than one project, I compartmentalize them. I might work on a suspense in the morning and a romance in the afternoon. Or I pick days and stick to that–suspense on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, other things on Tuesday and Thursday. For a while, I wrote novel length books on weekdays and turned to Indie novellas on the weekend.  Or I’d work on longer books all day and save one precious hour for other projects at the end of the day. 

  • Research one while writing the other. 

This last one works well. I like to let my brain think about one book by writing another. It may be researching an idea, reading background books, locating sources, but it’s a different kind of creative work that writing. It also allows me the break from an intense focus on one book and allows my subconscious to work on the second book. This process works really well for me. 
I've not tried any of these, but now wonder if I should. Though I have not done a lot of listening to music while writing--actually, none at all. I'm not sure what music I would listen to while writing. Sometimes, I'll be doing it while watching TV or a DVD, though. 


Elephant's Child said...

Interesting. Just as some multi-task better than others, I suspect that some would be able to write more than one book better than others. Whatever works for you is the key.

Sandra Cox said...

I've been writing one, editing another.
When writing, I leave a short blurb at the bottom of my manuscript to tell me what scenario to work on the next day.