I used to think that I should focus on only one project at a time. My fear was that, if I let myself get distracted by anything else, I would never finish anything that I started.
Lately, despite this . . . I’ve been having trouble finishing anything that I’ve started. Huh. Go figure.
I’m not exactly sure why this is, but despite planning and plotting (something I never used to do but started doing out of desperation), I still kept getting stuck at right around the first quarter point. Stubbornly, I’d step back, reassess, and usually decide I was taking the wrong approach. So I’d start over, incorporating whatever new idea for a fix I’d come up with. And then, right around the same point, I’d get stuck again.
After about the third round of this with my last project, a shiny new story idea popped into my head. I tried to push it aside; I wrote down a few notes then told it to sit tight and wait its turn. It didn’t like that. It kept nudging me, then poking me, then pretty much punching me in the arm to get my attention. “No,” I told it. “I can’t. I’m still stuck on this other project.” Stuck. Still stuck.
Maybe it was time to take a break. Not give up–no, no, no, I wasn’t at that point yet. Just take a break. Finally, I gave in. I set the other project aside and started working on the shiny new one. You’ll never guess what happened next.
Okay, maybe you will guess. Am I that transparent? Fine, yes, I started finding inspiration for that first project again. I didn’t get bored with the new one. I just found myself thinking about the characters in the old one as well. So now, I’m working on both. Will it take me longer to complete them? Probably.
. . . Actually, probably not. Because instead of sitting around being stuck, I’m actually writing. Yes, I’m writing in smaller increments on each, and sometimes setting one aside for a bit to work on the other, but I AM writing, as opposed to before, when I was spending more time feeling guilty about not writing than actually writing. So yes, I will actually probably finish both drafts faster than I would have if I was concentrating on just one at a time.
So you see, it’s okay to switch back and forth between projects. It’s okay to work on more than one in a single day. It’s okay to take large chunks of time off on one project to work solely on another. It’s okay to do whatever you can to keep your inspiration fresh. Maybe you’re in the mood to write something dark one day, and light the next. Do it. Have both types of projects waiting in the wings so you can pull them out whenever you need them. Writing should be a release, so write whatever emotion you need to deal with that day. Just keep your project load small so you don’t get overwhelmed. I wouldn’t recommend working on more than maybe three. I think for the moment, two is about all I can manage, personally. Maybe when I start revisions for one of them, I will introduce a third.
Now, get out there. Welcome those plot bunnies, don’t chase them away. They may be exactly what you need to get you moving again.
When she’s not writing, revising, or banging her head on the keyboard (it’s all the same, right?), Megan Paasch can be found playing her ukulele (badly), knitting (rarely anymore, unfortunately), or herding two amazing, but rowdy little boys (pretty much constantly) with her husband. A native to the Pacific Northwest, Megan earned her B.A. in History from the University of Washington. (Go Huskies!) Her favorite history subjects were, and still are, Women in History, the Tudors, and the Celts. You can read more about her here.
3 thoughts on “In Defense of Multiple Projects”
I've been thinking about this very thing. Working on revisions and plotting/drafting. I haven't worked out all the kinks yet, but definitely thinking about this.
That's awesome. I hope it works well for you.
I've written totally different stuff while between rounds of editing, (or between chapter chunks of editing).
My CampNano project has nothing to do with my primary WIP.
Besides, the #1 rule of writing is: if it works for you, do it!
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