For most of my writing life, I’ve been a pretty single-minded author; that is, I only work on one project at a time. Writing a book is a task that takes focus. Every day you go back to the keyboard, pick up where you left off, and continue the story. It’s a lot of mental work that can sometimes be difficult and stressful. At other times it’s a joy, of course, and that’s why we still do it. This has usually been my method: keep plodding forward on the same trail until I get to flatter, clearer ground and the going gets easier.
Lately though, I’ve decided to start trying to work on multiple projects at once. I had an idea for an interconnected series–the books aren’t dependent on each other but set in the same world–and each book is a different story. I figured I’d try writing all three at once. Well, not really at once, but at least simultaneously. My reasoning is that if I get stuck on one, or I’m not feeling a story on a certain day, I have the other stories I can work on and I’m still writing.
Is it working? Sorta.
There’s pros and cons to working on multiple things at once, and of course, those pros and cons are also based on your own writing style, the way your creativity works, and what you’ve trained your brain to do. Here’s the bad and good I’ve found so far:
- Keeps your brain from getting burnt out on any one idea.
- You can remain creative even when you’re not feeling like working on something–you can still write, just switch to another project.
- Working on one project may give you ideas to break through a block on another project.
- It feels really productive to have so many things going at once.
- All the projects take longer to finish.
- It’s harder to keep focus, since you’re often changing subjects.
- You start to feel guilty if you pay too much attention to one project and not enough to another.
- You need to produce more ideas.
I’m still experimenting with this, and I also know I’m working against the way my brain has always functioned when it comes to writing. Still, it gives me options when I come to the keyboard and just can’t muster the energy for a certain project. I can switch to another one I’m feeling instead, and I’m still writing. I’m still producing content.
How about you? Do you work on multiple projects at once, or can you only focus on one thing at a time?