Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is it okay to write multiple projects simultaneously?

Today I'm answering one final question before I take off for my maternity leave. I'll still be around, but some of my fab writer friends have offered to step in and share some wisdom while I figure out what life with two kids looks like. So if you have questions, you should still feel free to e-mail me, but I'm guessing I'll be even slower than normal in responding, and I won't get around to answering them until August.

If you're the type of person who cares about all that "baby stuff," then tune in to my author's blog for updates on Connor Joshua's arrival.

One last thing before we get onto the question of the day - giveaways. Roseanna White, who frequents this site and just happens to my best friend, is giving away a signed copy of my latest, So Over It, on her blog. So check that out for details. And, since today is the official release date, I'm giving away a copy on my blog as well. Head over there to leave a comment about your biggest TV pet peeve, and I'll enter you to win.

Okay, on we go.

A writer e-mailed me to ask, "Is it alright to have multiple projects? I currently have something like five books on the go, and write in whichever one I'm in the mood to write in at any given time. But is this helping me? Or hindering me? I find I learn a lot from all the writing I do, but I don't tend to finish much. So what's best to do?"

I have two answers for this ... and they kinda contradict each other. (See? It's soooo time for maternity leave.)

Here are my thoughts:

I used to flit from project to project. When I started finishing manuscripts is when I saw improvement in my writing. I really believe you learn more from writing complete manuscripts. Something about seeing the story all the way through... I don't know. It helped me develop a sense of, "This story idea will pan out" and "this story idea will not." I think one of the best things a beginning writer can do is write entire books at a time.

But that being said...

Sometimes you stall on a story. Been there done that. I'll be there and do that again, I'm sure. These days, I holler at Roseanna and we hash out the plot together, see if we can make it work. But in my formative years, I didn't have that, so I'd set aside projects for a month or two. There's nothing wrong with doing that. If you're not on deadline, anyway. I think the thing to ask yourself is, "Am I setting this aside because I've stalled ... or because I'm being lazy and I'm excited about a new idea?" Battle the laziness, because there's no room for it as a writer.

Also, writing complete manuscripts kind of becomes a fantasy once you're contracted. In my experience, anyway. Right now I'm not under contract, so I can write a full manuscript with minimal interruptions. But when I was still turning stuff in for the Skylar series, I frequently had to set aside my current project to do edits or rewrites on those books. It becomes mandatory to be flexible about your ideal writing schedule.

Um, how's that for an answer? In summary, push yourself to write complete manuscripts because that's how you'll learn best. But don't stress yourself out if you stall on something. And, when you sign your first contract, be ready to lose the luxury of writing complete manuscripts.

Happy writing everyone! Be nice to our guests!


  1. I have a folder called WIPs--works in progress. There are 54 items in it. How's that for multiple projects? LOL. Many of these are just ideas I had where I jotted down the first chapter or so, so that I'd remember it. Many stalled. Others are completed to proposal length but I don't plan to finish until I have a publisher interested in them (not enough time for everything!).

    Now that I've confessed to that, let me also say that jumping from MS to MS only works for me until I decide what to finish. Then I buckle down and do one project. These days. In college I was working on A STRAY DROP OF BLOOD during breaks and summers, but while classes were in session I'd work on other stories. I finished two in the same week one year, because I'd been working on both.

    I think it depends largely on where you are and what you're doing, but pushing through to the end is definitely crucial.

    And ya'll be hearing more from me as a guest poster here soon. =)

  2. I think it's definitely important to get ideas down before you lose them. If I have an idea that won't let go of me, I take time to write an opening/jot down notes/etc., then get back to my current manuscript.

    And Roseanna has an agent, so the ball game changes because sometimes you have to be more "proposal" focused than you do "full manuscript" focused.