How many projects do you work on at once?

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by shadow » December 7th, 2009, 5:19 pm

One great project at a time! I will also jot down ideas on the side, just so I don't forget for later!
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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by JessAna » December 7th, 2009, 5:30 pm

I like to have a couple going on at once, that way if I get stuck on something, I've got another, totally different manuscript to think about until I can work out what to do about the other one. And usually while I'm working through editing a completed manuscript I'll start writing another as well.
From talking to friends of mine who are published, it seems if you want to have any sort of career, then you'll be expcted to work on more than one project at a time anyway, so I figure I might as well get used to it!

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by marilyn peake » December 7th, 2009, 5:53 pm

I find I work best if I concentrate on one writing project at a time, letting my mind obsess on that one project. After finishing my fourth novel, an adult science fiction novel, GODS IN THE MACHINE, I'm taking a break from writing until after the holidays and start of the new year when I'll begin working for the first time with a professional Editor.
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Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by dannieunderhill » December 7th, 2009, 5:58 pm

At the moment I'm striving to keep it at two. One is being revised/going through critique groups, and the other is a WIP first draft. I can only actively be writing one novel-length work at a time, or the risk of one being dropped on the floor increases quite a bit, but I'm learning that I can write one thing while revising another without experiencing the same problem.

If we're counting ideas in progress... well, then I reckon I'd have to admit to another ten or so projects, but since I know that it's unlikely more than one or two of these will ever be written down, I don't really see them as current projects. My struggle is to keep it that way and preventing myself from giving into temptation and write down notes or first chapters. I find that for my story ideas, 'survival of the fittest' is the best technique. So ideas will be left to stew and mix and mingle and mature on their own in my mind. That way I find that once I get to actually write them down, they're more likely to be ready. And, well, whichever idea seems most interesting to me when I'm starting a new draft is the one I'll work on. After all, if an idea can't keep my own attention, how could it hope to keep anyone else's?

Uhm, yeah, somewhat on a rant, but I'm finding that little concept difficult to explain in just a few words.
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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by » December 7th, 2009, 6:32 pm

I've found that working on one project per genre works best for me. I try to concentrate on one, flipping to the other when I get "stuck" or just plain sick of it. I do keep a file of ideas which constitutes the general sketched out idea and maybe a few pages just to test the waters out and use as a point of reference when returning to it.

However, in the past, I've tried to put several irons in the fire. It was a losing proposition. The characters would interact with one another, I'd find portions of one work-in-progress (WIP) tucked in with the other and had the darnedest dreams as a result. Probably good fodder for other books (in fact, some of those are in that little file I have). But now I need to focus and get these WIPs completed and sent out.

Interestingly, at the PNWA conference earlier this year, while waiting for my appointment with Erin Brown (terrific Book Doctor, btw), the volunteer (male) asked myself and the young woman I was seated next to, how many WIPs we had going. We both answered two. He said he was a one-at-a-time kind of guy, he couldn't multi-task well. During our brief conversation, we determined, quite unscientifically mind you, that the male mind tends to be more focused whereas the female is, by nature possibly, capable of multi-tasking. Yes, very unscientific and possibly even gender stereotyping, but we're fiction writers and love to try to make sense of these trivial things, right?

Speaking of which, it's time to turn off my writing brain and flounce around in the mommy pot.

Happy writing!

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by Chazz » December 7th, 2009, 6:37 pm

One book at a time, though it's often tempting to write more than one at a time. (I tend to read up to ten books at a time, as well.) When the paid writing gigs come along (magazine pieces, columns, non-fiction, speeches and lobbying work) I have to put the novel aside until I plow through the current assignment.

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by Jenny » December 7th, 2009, 7:10 pm

I've figured out that I can work on two things at once as long as I'm at the same stage of the game for each one. If I'm writing a first draft, then I can do two at once. If I'm editing/revising, I can do two at once. But trying to switch gears from the writing on one project to the revising on another doesn't work for me at all. It makes my poor brain work too hard.

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by Jen P » December 7th, 2009, 7:27 pm

Definitely mono-bookmous - not to say I don't stray off with ideas for a new project, or work which I'll work on once the WIP is complete, but they are only notes in a big lined book and temporary flirtations. Writing more than notes, scraps of dialogue or scenes, is focused only on the WIP. I don't allow myself to get distracted from the WIP, otherwise I'll never finish it. More power to those who can juggle different WIPs simultaneously, but I'm not one of them.

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by Matera_the_Mad » December 7th, 2009, 8:06 pm

I have four or five unfinished stories right now. I work on whatever my head is in the right state for. One at a time is okay too, but I start other things if the brain gets knotted.
A drum is empty always, and when the skin is rightly taut it gives right noise, right sound. Attention is like that.
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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by carrieb » December 7th, 2009, 8:25 pm

I work on two things at a time: One non-fiction book and one novel. But I have to keep it totally separate. The non-fiction is on the desktop computer, the novel is on the laptop.

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by linguista » December 8th, 2009, 12:29 am

As far as novels go, one at a time. I get really into my characters, and I can't imagine leaveing them alone to go get involved with other characters. I have, however, found that I don't really have much patience with editing, so I'm thinking I might need to try editing while workign on the first draft of another novel.

I get a lot of ideas for new projects too. I deal with this by keeping them in a Word document called Novel Concepts. Everytime I get a new idea, I jot down what I know about the project: working title, character names, traits, personalities, story line, etc.

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by rose » December 8th, 2009, 12:43 am

Well, that all depends on how your definition of work works.

I have one in process, a couple in different stages of research, and a couple finished and in the drawer waiting to be revisited.
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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by CharleeVale » December 8th, 2009, 3:20 am

I'm in the predicament right now. My current project is almost finished and I'm having trouble ending it satisfactorily. Meanwhile other characters are climbing into my head and making room, all the while screaming for my attention. But I am trying my best to keep going on the one project.


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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by Thomas Burchfield » December 8th, 2009, 7:43 pm

Mmmm . . . think you're about to win another of those Best Agent Blog awards again, Nathan. Maybe they should just give it to you and retire it.

I used to be a one-thing-at-a-time guy, but over the years, I've learned to compartmentalize a little more and I suspect in today's online-media driven world, writers kind of have to. I keep hearing the "platform" word, which is why I post essays at the Red Room.

One technique I employ is to make a little "to do list" at the start of each day and check my tasks off as I go. "Novel" is always first. I find it helps keep things sane and it's OK if I don't get to everything! If I have just half the tasks lined out, I consider it an excellent day.

As a kind of side example, I just posted this Red Room Essay about the time I was assaulted on a dark San Francisco street ten years ago. It was on my list to finish yesterday. It got crossed off.
My contemporary Dracula novel DRAGON'S ARK is now available in paperback and e-book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell's Books, Scrib'd and Smashwords. Find me at

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Re: How many projects do you work on at once?

Post by Herema » December 8th, 2009, 8:05 pm

I work on one at a time, but have about twenty in progress in various stages.

Some days, editing is where I want to be. Other days, I have a powerful need to create, brainstorm, or just ramble inside my computer. I have two novels of a four book series completed except for the editing and proofing. Some days are poetry or short stories while others are blogs and forums after emails. Rarely do I not write something (even in my sleep) every day.

Nice new playground here, Nathan. I like it. I like the blog, too.

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