Saturday, September 8, 2012

Is it better to work on multiple projects or stick to one?

So its the epic question.

Do you write one book at a time, or do you work on multiple at once?

Multiple At Once- Pros

  • More possible writing time. 
  • Less chance of dealing with Writer's Block. Because every time you get stuck with one story, you can just flip to the next one. 
  • There's always choices, you'll never get sick of working on just one thing. 
  • You may get inspiration from one story for another. 
  • It might be easier to deal with all the voices in your head, it might make more of them leave you alone. 
Multiple At Once- Cons
  • You may end up favoring one more over another (which could turn into working on just one till its finished). 
  • You may start too many books and not finish anything. 
  • Less focus on one story because you may have a stronger feeling for wandering to another story. 
  • You may get stories confused. 
  • You might end up spending too much time away from a novel and lose your spark (your enthusiasm) for it. 

One At a Time- Pros
  • There's more of a focus on that story. 
  • Less chance of getting distracted. 
  • More determination to succeed in order to work on another idea. 
  • Faster time at finishing a book (possibly). 
  • You might realize that all those ideas you thought of aren't as cool as you originally thought. 
One At a Time- Cons
  • A stronger chance off getting stuck on Writer's Block. 
  • You might end up getting plagued by ideas and get frustrated when you can never work on them. 
  • You might get bored of one story faster. 
  • You might feel bad if you suddenly realize that you hate your current project and you step away from it. 
Tips for Multiple At Once Writers
I'm one of these writers, so I might be able to give more advice here. See, I once was an Once At a Time author, where I wrote only one book before starting the other. It was a long and hard process but I finished it. (Techinally, because it was a series and I had reached 80k and then I decided to stop...and it was my first novel.) 

Anyways, one of the problems with this type of writing process is that you risk that chance of starting too many novels and never finishing anything. My advice if you're facing this problem is to pick your favorite three out of all your ideas. If you can't decide, think of the three books that have the most potential or the most ideas with them. If neither of that works, start with each book and start trying to think of more ideas for  stories or find a way to get your self excited about three of them. 

And once you have your three, keep one as a back up but focus primarily on the two other ones. If all goes smoothly you should have ideas for each story. And its okay to focus on just one of others. If you're worried about losing inspiration, take a day once a week or whatever and work on that other book. Or write down ideas for the other stories. As long as you're getting something finished or close to it, that's good. 

My last tip really for this one is for getting confused. I've done this before when I've been working on The Cursing (written in first person present tense) and then switch to Night Lies (third person past tense; you can imagine the confusion). My tip for this is to take a bit of a break before you switch. You may want to work on that other book just as you're finishing a scene for the other, but take a minute to let your brain snap out of the other story first. 

Go read a book written in the tense and pov the story you're about to work on is written in. Take a moment to imagine your story and let yourself mentally transition to the new book. You may be itching to write, but it helps to take a little break. 

Tips for Once at a Time writers. 
If you're writing a novel one at a time, congrats because you're way more determined then I am. My brain couldn't handle being forced to stick to one idea for so long. Granted I often focus on one story for a period, but I couldn't write a whole novel to the end without working on something else. 

That being said, if you're being plagued with ideas that are begging for your attention (and this applies to Multiple writers too), my suggestion is to write the pitch, maybe a basic outline if you're that kind of writer, and maybe start on the first chapter if you're dying to start. After that file them away for later and go back to your current project. This is also a good idea to see for later on when you come back to your ideas, you'll have a fresher look at what you like and what you don't like anymore. 

If you're getting bored by your current story or getting stuck, my advice is to take a break for a little bit (also applies to Multiple novelists). Do the dishes, go for a run, watch a move, read a book, just something to get your mind off the current story for a bit. If that doesn't help, try figuring out what's bothering you. And hey, maybe you are just stuck with the story or you hate it, that's okay. 

Its okay to put something away if you're totally bored or stuck and you don't know why. Or if you hate it. You don't want to be writing a book you don't want to write. Because if you hate it, your readers will too. And don't try to force yourself. Sometimes it is good to force yourself to work on something, but other times it'll just make you upset. So save yourself a little sanity. 

So, which kind of novelist are you? Have you tried both or do you only stick to one type? Which works best?



  1. I'm definitely a one-at-a-time novelist. I like to stick with one thing all the way through. I'm afraid that if I started multiple projects, at least one of them would never get finished.

    1. I would like to be a one-at-a-time novelist, but I can't stay focused like that. That is one of my fears, but happily I make myself get things done. :) Its taking longer then it would if I completely focused on one, but I'll get there eventually.


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