Juggling Multiple Writing Projects

Why You Should Have Multiple Projects

If you are like me, you probably have at least two or three writing projects you are currently working on. I used to feel guilty about this, and hopelessly overburdened, until I realized that there is a plus side to have a number of irons in the fire.

If I’m working on a long, book-length project and get become stuck or paralyzed, I can often jump-start my motivation, enthusiasm, and energy level by finishing a shorter project that is already on the verge of being done.

Why Writing Projects Are Like Credit Card Debt

Suzy Orman, among other financial gurus, recommends the snowball method of paying credit card debt. The snowball method involves paying the minimum payment on all cards except for the one with the lowest balance. You put all of your financial resources into that one card until the balance is zero, and then move onto the next card.

I think this works with writing projects as well. I will focus all of my energy on either the shortest project or the one that causes me the most dread and anxiety. Once I have that project finished, I carry that momentum over into the next project.

How Many Projects?

I never have a shortage of ideas for new projects and have the terrible habit of starting and not finishing dozens of projects. I can’t relate to people who would like to write but don’t have any good ideas.¬† I’ve heard the advice to have no more than three writing projects going at one time, but for me the key is what type of projects I am working on. I find that I can easily juggle multiple projects if they different enough. For example, right now I am working on two book-length projects, one is academic non-fiction and the other is a novel. I also usually have a variety of short projects going at one time, such as academic articles, freelance essays, and poetry.

Row, Row, Row Your Projects

When singing a round, like “Row Row Row Your Boat,” each group of singers waits until the first group has completed a verse before they jump in and begin singing. I find that this rhythm works well with writing projects as well. I usually have one project that is still in the brainstorming and outlining stage, one project that is deep in the drafting stage, and one project that is completed and either awaiting feedback or undergoing revisions or editing.

Beware the Siren Song of the New Project

My name is Sandy and I am addicted to starting new projects.

In her book¬† Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams, Heather Sellers calls this “The Sexy Next Book.” She says, “Every book in your head seems easier than what you’re doing now.” I couldn’t agree with this more. I try to avoid getting lured into a new project, but I do keep a notebook where I can jot down ideas when they strike me. That way I know those ideas will be waiting for me when I have completed my current project or projects.

What are your strategies for juggling multiple projects?