Monday, July 19, 2010

Are you a juggler?

There are a lot of writers who release more than one book a year, or who have multiple series running simultaneously. But honestly, I have always thought of those writers as an alien species.

I'm a 'one-project-at-a-time' kind of girl. One idea. One plot. One set of characters. Any new ideas are recorded in a special file and shoved away for a later time. No exceptions.

But recently I've been thinking about juggling...

The thing is, sticking with only one story--especially when heavy revision is involved--can be kind of ... frustrating. There will be days where I am so fed up with my stupid stubborn characters I want to kill them all off, just to spite them. And I'm thinking that if I had another project I could turn to, so that I get a break, yet still keep writing, it might save me from going homicidal on my MS.

Plus, I actually have juggled projects before. In film school I was required to carry multiple writing classes at the same time, so I have dealt with scheduling time for each project, and doing voice exercises to get in the right 'zone' before diving in, etc.

But's scary to think about letting any of my characters go to make room for others. Plus I have this irrational fear that it will end up making each project painfully mediocre, because I won't be as focused as I write. So I'm torn...

What do you guys think? Any of you juggle more than one project at a time? Any tips for those of us who are thinking about giving it a try? 


  1. I always have to juggle projects, or I go insane! :) But I normally assign priorities, as in: Story A is my current project. I will always work on it, unless I start writing less because I'm trying to avoid it. Then I move to Story B. When I start to get sick of Story B, I always go back to Story A. And then back down to B, and if BOTH stories make me queasy, I go to Story C. But Story A always has priority. :D
    Does that make sense? I hope it helps!

  2. I always have AT LEAST two things going at once. Right now, the total is at four and possibly a fifth. This way, when I get blocked or bored with one, I can move on to another and there is always some kind of progress and I don't feel like a slacker. LOL

  3. I usually work on one piece at a time, edit that piece a few times, then begin working on something else while I continue to edit.

    I can't move on from a story till I feel I have worked on it more than a few times.

    Good luck with your writing. I'm sure whatever you put your mind and heart to can be accomplished! : )

  4. I find writing a short story or even a flash fic/microstory helps with my longer WIP if only to capture my love of the written word again.

    Whatever you decide - good luck and all the best!

    Take care

  5. oh!!!! I can't juggle. I can only write one story at a time. Period. I've tired to juggle, but the voice of the stories get mixed up and I find myself having to fix it.

    Revisions are different. I tend to go "blank" for writing when I'm in the revision stage, which is pretty sad thats normally a fairly long stage for me. LoL.

    I would like to trade in my brain for one that multi-task writing, I can do it with every other aspect of my life!!


  6. My fear would be that I would get sucked into the new project because it would be fresher, easier and more appealing than (ugh) revisions or whatever it was on the first project that pushed me away.

    So, I like the idea in theory, but not sure it would work for me in practice.

    But then....come to think of it, isn't blogging like a second project? You juggle those two well, so you should be able to work on another project to get a break from the first.

  7. Juggling more than one project is hard (although I know Lauren Oliver does and has blogged about it...she'll work on YA and MG at the same time). I'd been working on my main book and had one that kept bugging me during the school year, that I'd give attention to. However, once it became summer vacation I dived into my current WIP and have kind of pushed the other one aside. It's good to know, though, that I have my next book ready to go after this. Good luck with your projects!

  8. I tried juggling recently and found it really doesn't work for me. I prefer working on one project at a time, otherwise when I get stuck on one, I'll be too easily tempted to work on the other one and nothing would ever get done.

  9. I think trying to get where you are, or other agented authors or pubbed authors are, we HAVE to juggle. We need to do everything we can to get noticed, and sometimes that's a lot of work. I'm on overload right now but I have to stay present everywhere all the time.

  10. Honestly, I find when I'm working on more than one project, my overall writing is clearer, crisper. During those times I tend to avoid the 'dull' moments of a scene or setting. You know?? I'm working on four different manuscripts, right now. When I decided to do this, I was nervous. I was afraid of lack of focus. What I've done is concentrated on one mainly, while I develop the other story at the same time. It's like one breeds off the other. The other two projects are more like corkboard projects. When an element comes to mind that I feel would fit within either of those, I simply write it down and tack it to the corkboard. I guess you could call them my ladies-in-waiting. Hee... It's a great exercise for a writer, I think. I need to branch out and do it more. I believe it enhances my writing.

    Only advice: keep the outlines separate, but don't put yourself in a restrictive box. Let yourself think, mind wander. You'll be surprised how much is there. ";-) Best of luck, always.

  11. I can juggle editing one and writing another, but I haven't yet tried writing 2... although I'm really considering it because I have another idea brewing and can't get it out of my head!

  12. I actually can juggle. Oh wait ... you were talking about writing? Not so much.

  13. I am a juggler. I think it keeps things from sounding "forced." When I just can' figure out where to go with a piece, instead of forcing it, I work on the other. (I usually have more than a couple going on at a time).

    That way, I have no excuse not to write.

    Juggling is a way of life for me now.

    Good luck.


  14. I'm definitely a juggler, but I like to think that I'm an organized one! When I finish a draft of my WiP, I work on another one for a week or so. This helps me clear my head and come back to my original WiP much more refreshed.

    Good luck!

  15. I naturally juggle projects.

    It can be therapeutic, but it also kept me from finishing anything for years. "This one's interesting - oh! I have this new idea, and this one is so much fun to write - That movie I saw just gave me a great idea..."

    That's actually the main reason I had to designate a day to write whatever I wanted. I had to create boundaries so that I actually would finish the current WiP. Otherwise, I'd still be bouncing around.

  16. You could try having different WIPs in different stages. Maybe outline one, first draft another, and edit a third. I think the processes are different enough that it shouldn't cause too many problems.

  17. I'm with Justine and Victoria--I can't juggle. Wish I could, but I am a bear of very little brain.

    Plus, aside from having a busy life w/ dogs, kid, husband, friends, extended family obligations, etc, I always have critiques to do for my CP's, and a TBR stack (and Sunday night True Blood watching), and a blog...I have only enough time to work on one thing at a time.
    When the lure of a Shiny New Idea comes up (and they do, often) I write them in my Idea Notebook, and go back to being focused on my WiP.

    Happy Monday, S.

  18. I'm always working on multiple projects. While writing my first book I was also writing the other two in the trilogy while outlining two more. Sounds crazy, but hey, now that my first book is finished the next two are half finished.

    Stephen Tremp

  19. I'm a complete juggler, in writing and in life. On the writerly side, I attribute this to my self-diagnosed ADD. Minimally I have 3-4 projects going at once. It's actually helped me to focus. I know that sounds weird, but when you have a few different sets of characters, it's like they just know they have competition. They are far more cooperative if they realize you could drop them for a couple weeks to go hang out with those other, cooler characters.

  20. I juggle to an extent, but I can't draft two WiPs at the same time. I have to finish a first draft, then work on something else while it mellows for like a month.

    Usually I'll work on editing something else, but I actually have a shiny new idea that's been percolating—while I'm only 12K into my current WiP! So when I finish the WiP first draft, I'll go straight into drafting a new one.

    Currently, I have the WiP, two outlined and barely begun sequels to the finished manuscript I'm currently querying, two other manuscripts I'm revising, and the twinkling potential of another WiP. That's a lot of people to keep straight, and voices to get right, so I only switch projects when I've been working on one for two long.

    The key to staying motivated is to never to leave a first draft unfinished. By the time you're getting sick of working on one project, you'll have the others to fall back on.

  21. I am definately a juggler! I start something, get another completely opposite idea and have to start something else. I just go back and forth. Also..juggling life in there, helps multitasking efforts..
    my a.d.d brain just works that way :)

  22. I am horrible at juggling! I usually have to finish a MS before starting another one. I have tried it before and the end result was not good for me. I can handle working on revisions while writing something else, but that's about it.

  23. For me, the key is communication. With yourself.

    Talking to yourself isn't the most effective way to do this, because you inevitably get into the whole, "She Said/She Said" thing, and that just gets you nowhere.

    But I email myself, or text myself, or facebook message myself, and I just say, "This is where I'm going with this right now." I try to make it as thorough of a communication as possible.

    Plus notes, lots and lots of notes.

    Oh yeah, and each of my projects has a soundtrack, based on the setting of the story and the genre. So for my book set in South Texas, I have a nice Tex-Mex soundtrack, my book set in the 60's is just plain groovy, and the one set in a 20's style Chicago is jazzy. This helps me to compartmentalize the projects and maintain the same mood throughout each one.

    Sometimes I cycle my desktop background too, depending on the project.

    Little efforts to help keep everything afloat.

  24. I'm definitely a juggler. I find that it helps me with writer's block. When I am stuck on one project, I move to the other WIP. Admittedly, it takes a bit to immerse myself in the world I'm working in, but once there, I stay until I am stuck...

  25. I've always been a one project writer as well, but as I finish off one story, the next ideas tend to start running around in my head. Don't know if I could deal with more than one at once.

  26. I expect I could work on more than one project at once, but I have such limited time to do any writing that it's better for me to only actively write one thing at a time.

    However, I have all my in-progress ideas on the stove inside my brain, so even though some are on the back burner and I don't think about them as often, they're still there, and I'd like to think that they're simmering and combining flavors and all that while they're waiting for their turn in the front.

  27. I used to think juggling was insane. I had 1 main project, Eberheardt, and a side project, Payment in Blood, which was a novella. And on the side I would jot down random ideas if I felt the urge to. But that stuff just sits in my "Other" folder.
    Last week, an idea made me right it down. This idea is now at 7000 words, and I really enjoy writing it.

  28. I have juggled more than one at a time. I didn't say successfully. ;) It does give me a little break from the other characters.

  29. I think juggling projects can be really helpful, as long as it's clear which project is the priority. You can't juggle back and forth endlessly, getting very little real work done on any one thing.

    But there are days when the same cast of characters is almost unbearable. It helps then to turn to another project and keep the joy of writing alive.

  30. There are definitely plus and minuses to juggling! It's good to have more than one project going, to use different parts of your brain (creativity for the first draft, edit brain for the second+ drafts, submission brain for the querying).

    But if you actually sell a book, you are guaranteed to have to multitask - and the "marketing" brain will always be taking a part of your time!

  31. I'm juggling a bit as I am working on my second novel and thinking about cutting some from the first. But I am amazed at writers who juggle lots and write so many books so fast.

    Think about all the other things you juggle in life and I think you'll see this isn't that much different. I juggle a ton, so it doesn't bother me.

  32. Until recently I've painstakingly ignored my shiny new ideas because I was so sure that in writing something else, I'd end up not finishing my current WiP. I'm beginning to suspect that this isn't true though, and I'm capable of juggling writing projects just as well as I do in all the other areas of my life.
    So, yes, I allowed myself to start a new project... Gulp.


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