Monday, 11 February 2019

Juggling Multiple Writing Projects without Breaking a Sweat

Welcome to Week J of Authors' Tips: A to Z of Writing.
If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap.

Authors share their tips on writing fiction - and each week we talk about various aspects of writing.

This week it's time to take a closer look at how to juggle multiple writing projects.

Every writer has her/his own writing process. For some writing begins with certain rituals and habits. For others it's done with minimum fuss. There are some who believe in focusing on one book project at a time and there are those who work on two or more manuscripts simultaneously. How the writer accomplishes her/his work is a very personal journey.

JK Rowling, for instance, is known to juggle multiple projects at once. While writing her latest Cormoran Strike book, Lethal White (which by the way is an excellent read!) she was simultaneously working on two screenplays.

Before you decide if you are a Singular Project or Multiple Project Writer let's consider a few scenarios:

The Lure of a New Project  This is one of the common hazards that a writer faces. You are mid-way through your current Work In Progress (WIP) when a new idea pops into your head. It seems much more exciting than the one you are currently plodding away on. You give it a spin (in your head) and suddenly your synapses are crackling away. You have scenes bouncing around in your mind and an array of interesting characters mouthing witty dialogue. You simply can't seem to pull yourself away from the story. And you kind of feel guilty about abandoning your WIP and starting off on the new project. In romance terms, it would be a bit like ditching your girlfriend/boyfriend for the hot sexy girl/guy on the block!

Project Fatigue  You have been slogging away at your manuscript or screenplay for some time and there comes a time when it doesn't feel fresh any more. The excitement has faded or you have become stuck and no matter what approach you try it doesn't feel right. Sometimes despite your best efforts, you simply can't seem to get it right.

Publish or perish syndrome Increasingly, more and more indie authors are feeling pressured to follow a punishing publishing schedule. Multiple books help to grow your author brand and increase sales for your books. However, that pressure can often lead to creative juices drying up or result in writing block.

Photo by Conor Samuel on Unsplash
I have been in all three situations and I have found that working on multiple projects always helps to pull me out of the rut. Initially, I did stress about leaving a WIP in favour of a new project. But taking my focus away from a project that's beginning to drag has helped me to come back to it with fresh eyes and renewed enthusiasm. Often times, I found that working on something new helped to untangle the knots in an earlier project. It's best to trust your instincts and to let the brain work its mysterious magic! The bonus: you don't need to feel guilty about 'ditching' a current manuscript!

Organising your work is key Multiple projects however need a lot more organisation. Keeping separate folders in your computer for each project is one way of doing things. You may also want to work on different genres so that you don't get your story ideas all tangled up. For instance, if I'm working on two projects simultaneously, I would do a romance book and a screenplay or a non-fiction book project. Also, I tend to space out my writing schedule in such a way that I spend a couple of days on one project, take a mid-week break and then work on the next project.

Writing Stages What works best is if your projects are at different stages of the Writing process. For instance, you could be bang in the middle of the second act in one WIP, for another you might be at the editing stage and for yet another title you could be doing the research. That helps in organising your thoughts and work load for each of them.

To quote Edward De Bono, "Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way." Juggling multiple projects helps you harness your creativity in a non-disruptive yet fun way! Try it out and let me know your thoughts.

Also, don't forget to check out other J posts in this series:

Is Jealousy a Bad Thing? by Reet Singh

Journey of a Fiction Writer by Ruchi Singh

Jargon and Slang in Fiction - Yay or Nay? by Devika Fernando

Apps to Jot down those Ideas by Preethi Venugopala