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?

11 thoughts on “Juggling Multiple Writing Projects

  1. This is great advice! I have multiple projects going and it does help when I’m stuck on one to spend time on another. And the book in my head seems a lot easier than the one I’m 20k into right now! (But I know it’s not!)

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  2. Hmm. This is my life and my problem. I actually feel like I’m living two lives–my regular one and my book ones. I will remember–keep the projects different enough. I’ve run into a double nonfiction project that threatens to kill me with overlap.

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    • I like the idea of living two lives. I feel this way too! Someone famous (Virginia Woolf?) said that she lives twice, once during the actual events of her life, and once when she is writing about them.

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  3. I don’t do this with writing. I do it with my craft projects. When I get bored with one, I rotate to another. I will NOT admit how bog my UFO (unfinished object) pile is.

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  4. I love this post and I think it makes a lot of sense. But I have to admit, even though I am a woman and can think of more than one thing at a time, I can only focus on one major writing project at a time. But once that is finished I am quick to move to the next one. I find submitting short pieces to magazine in while writing a major piece (like my memoir) to be really helpful though. I clear the cobwebs from my mind by writing short pieces.

    Thanks for this article and for your visit to my blog. 🙂 Love the pics of you and your bub up the top. I too am a mother 🙂

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  5. I love this post and I think it makes a lot of sense. But I have to admit, even though I am a woman and can think of more than one thing at a time, I can only focus on one major writing project at a time. But once that is finished I am quick to move to the next one. I find submitting short pieces to magazine in while writing a major piece (like my memoir) to be really helpful though. I clear the cobwebs from my mind by writing short pieces.
    +1

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  6. Once I actually started writing a novel that gripped me and held me in my chair, I lost interest in pursuing shuny new ideas. I keep files for ideas as they crop up, but it’s been years since I was tempted to drop my WIP in favor of something new. If I am waiting on beta readers, I will work on the next exciting thing, but otherwise, I’ve become a one-book-at-a-time writer.

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