Writing: Working on multiple projects at once

Modern folk love multitasking. We do it all the time. It seems nobody can go so much as a whole movie before they pull out their cell phones to check e-mails. That being said, do you want to juggle multiple projects? It can be very appealing if you’re trying for a high volume of books a year. (I’m more of a quality over quantity guy.)

The big pro of working on multiple things at once is getting more done. If you can write short stories, multiple novels, blog posts, guest posts, and still manage to shower, go for it. When I’m working on all three of my projects at once I get 3-6 hours a work in a day. Those of you who don’t write full time might say, “So what?” Well let me put it this way. I can get out 2,000 words in about 45 minutes if I’m really in the zone. Not just 2,000 random words either. Good stuff, stuff I don’t cut out the next day or in editing. Today I got several articles polished up to be submitted for other websites, got this blog written, kept up on correspondences, and I’ll be writing about 1500+ words in my next novel tonight. That’s a lot of work. If I got all of that done every day I’d put out three novels a year and have the marketing on lock. Some people swear by multiple projects. I read a post on an author’s website that said she could only work on one project if she knew she was blowing off another.

The downsides are a little harder to suss out, and are a lot more subjective. I can’t work on multiple creative projects. Guest articles and a short story? Fine! A novel and a daily blog post? No issue! But a short story while I’m working on a novel? No thanks. I take a lot of pride in the believability of my characters. They’re all real people to me. They each have a specific way of talking. They have hopes, dreams, and opinions all their own. Each of them had a whole life before the novel started, even if you never see it. When I work on multiple creative projects my characters suffer for it. Writing for me is like doing Kung Fu: It’s better if I don’t think too much about it. When I write multiple projects I have to focus on who each person is and where they fit into the story. Not so when I only have one story going. Their world is the only one I live in, so it’s not like I’m going to forget who these people are. Multiple projects means I’m working in two worlds at once. I don’t like it. Hell, I don’t even like working on a story when I’m editing. (Although for time’s sake I occasionally do.) It’s like texting in the middle of a conversation; you aren’t giving those people your full attention.

You might not have this problem. The only way you’ll find out is by doing. Everyone’s different. All the advice in the world isn’t going to write that book for you.

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