Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two Projects, One Writer - is it for you?

Last week I talked about multiple vs. single projects. Today, I'm talking about identifying traits that make each method successful.

I have a huge amount of respect for writers who stick to one novel, because I know how rough it is. I deeply admire and wish I could be like writers who juggle multiple novels, because I’d never dedicate enough time to each novel if I tried. My writing process involves lots of focus, brainstorming, and loyalty of time. But what about your writing process? Which of the two suits you best?

Given last week's list of pros/cons, here’s just a couple thoughts about what it would take to be successful using either process:

Multiple Projects

Although multiple projects often draws those have a more flexible, less-structured writing process, you would also need to be efficient and dedicated. It’s extremely easy to procrastinate with one or more projects. Writers would need to know when they’re procrastinating, and teach themselves to push through on that project.

It also requires an amount of realistic creative evaluation—is this shiny idea something of value that can be developed into a full novel, or will you only drop it 20K in? How many projects can you balance at once, and where’s the cutoff? Such a writer needs to see their novels through to the end—and push to get there.

They’d also need to be able to switch their focus with ease, writing in a non-linear method from novel to novel, which may actually appeal to some outliners; yet, pansters would work well in an environment with less time to plan or brainstorm for each work in progress.

All in all? Success with multiple projects requires a writer who writes to discover, yet can balance this with self-control and efficient work methods.

Single Projects

Single projects work best for writers who require lots of focus, planning, or creative brainstorming for each project, while maintaining their ability let any new story ideas “percolate” on the back burner while the current work-in-progress gets their full attention. These writers need to be able to dedicate themselves. They need to resist the shiny. They’re driven by an interest to bring out the best in the given novel and see it’s potential.

Given that they need to have persistence, they also need to be extremely creative and keep their work interesting. It can be a slow drudge. They need to have a passion for their story that drives them through periods of slow progress. This involves learning how to balance writing time with pursuing inspiration. Such creativity is what allows them to keep the novel from going stale—and keeps other, unwritten ideas fresh until later. Such writers need a confidence in their novel and their writing progress that allows them to follow it through, step-by-step, to the finish.

Bottom line? This process requires a writer who can be dedicated as well as passionate, who has a lot of creativity but knows how to channel that creativity into their novel of focus.

And then of course…there’s everything and anything in between. I don’t expect to have pinpointed everyone. In fact, I’m just summarizing much of the opinions and stories of other writer’s I’ve heard who talked about their writing process. Hopefully, you can read through these posts and find something that makes you say, “That is definitely not me,” or “Oh—I could do that!” and help point you in the right direction.

Like I said in the beginning, the key to all this is finding what works for you. If your current process hasn’t brought you much success, yet the other process doesn’t work, find a way to be successful in what works for you. Maybe you need to switch methods; maybe you just need to learn self control, or persistence.

Since I’ve been on the “one novel” track for quite a while now, I’d love to hear any thoughts by people who write multiple novels simultaneously. Why does it work for you? Why doesn’t it work? And if you’re like me, a one novel gal, why do you find this works for you? How do you manage new ideas or extended writing times?

Truly and always,

-Creative A


April said...

I think I mentioned in your first blog regarding 1 or more simultaneous projects that I am...somewhere in the middle, I think. I blog all about it...so in an attempt to get you to read my blog...I'm gonna leave you hanging!!!

Good post, though. I think you summed it all up very well, though like you said...there's us in-betweeners. I think everyone's a little different. No one does it all exactly the same. Which is a good thing!

Creative A said...

Hey April, yes, you were blogging about this topic too, weren't you? Feel free to comment with a link.

Being somewhere in the middle is neat--personally I'm learning each novel ends up changing my process all around, so who knows, maybe that will be me soon? I think more people are in between than not!


Anonymous said...

Hey Creative A! Long time, no see! Saw this post and figured I had to respond.

I think that all writers eventually have multiple projects going due to the process in general. When you finish a WIP, you move onto something else because the first WIP is being beta read or is out for submission or you just need time away from it.

I'm still working on my first WIP but it's editing and getting polished for submission. At the same time I'm writing my next WIP and also working on a short story project.

In the end, you have to multitask to keep new projects going when others are not in a place to be worked on.

Creative A said...

well hey, Aaron! You're not kidding! Great to hear from you.

That's a really good point; in that aspect, I know I have juggled multiple projects before. I think that's a bit different from doing multiple WIPs, though a multitasking principles still applies.


Ryan Sullivan said...

I am very devoted to my one novel at a time rule. I've never worked on more than one big project at a time. But I want to stick even closer to my rule this time because I have never finished any of my longer works and I know this is the one.

I agree with the idea of working on a new project while editing and polishing, but more than one first draft at the same time? Not for me.

I can compare this to the books I'm reading. I'm somewhere in the middle of four or so books, but I think without actually finishing one there is no sense of accomplishment.

I think that sense of accomplishment is something I thrive on, and something I can only achieve if I feel I'm getting somewhere with my novel.

It always feels good after a writing session because I can see the progress. I'm itching to finish the first draft.

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