1. Malkhalifa
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    Malkhalifa Member

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    working on two major projects at the same time?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Malkhalifa, Feb 11, 2013.

    Like the title says. Advisable? possible? completely different stories. I have two major ideas and I don't want them to vanish, i also don't want either to sit while I wait to finish the other.

    thoughts?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Go ahead and work on two projects. Or 200 projects, if you can manage it. Many writers work on more than one project at a time. Right now I'm revising a short story at the same time as I'm writing the first draft of a different short story. I have other stuff on the back burner. I like working this way, because any time I get tired of something, there's always something else I can work on.

    Don't tie yourself down to one project if you don't want to. Do what works for you.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I've read somewhere that Thomas Pynchon did it, between Gravity's Rainbow and Crying of Lot 49. Can it be done? Sure. Should you? That is up to you.
     
  4. popsprocket
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    popsprocket Member

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    Sure, it's both advisable and possible. Can be very good for letting yourself work on whichever project suits you better at the time, or which ever one you had a great idea for last night.

    I don't often write simultaneously, but I do work on my notes for multiple stories all at the same time. The longer I let something sit in my head and stew, the easier it is to write by the time I'm ready to put it on paper and keeping multiple ideas floating around often lets them play off each other and helps me to develop ideas better.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you can do it well, then there's no reason not to...
     
  6. DannyLewis
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    DannyLewis New Member

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    I'm fairly sure that Brandon Sanderson does this. He has a list of his current projects on his website and is very rarely working on one at a time.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I remember Alice McDermott ("At Weddings and Wakes", "The Bigamist's Daughter", "That Night") being interviewed by Newsday, the Long Island newspaper (Alice was originally from Elmont - I met her when we were both freshmen in high school, but that's another story). At the time, it had been a while since she had published and the first question the interviewer asked was "What are you currently working on?" To which she replied that she was actually working on four projects, much to the annoyance of her editor. It was quite a while after that when she finally came out with "Charming Billy".

    The good thing about having two projects going at the same time is that if you hit a snag (or just feel you need a break) with one project, you can switch to something else that will keep you fresh. The downside is that doing that can be a distraction, causing you to lose forward momentum on one or the other (or, at worst, both). I like to have a second project at a different stage - e.g. one writing, one editing or researching - but even with that, the danger of two projects competing for one's attention is there.

    In the end, it comes down to what you are most comfortable with.
     
  8. niallohagan
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    niallohagan Member

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    Ive about four novels started. Im a bit scatterbrained when it comes to writing. I think I need to just work on one
     
  9. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say it is a good idea - if your thoughts dry up on one story you can work on the other. Go for it!
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you've never finished anything, it's not a good idea to keep fiddling with multiple projects and best to concentrate on finishing one of them, just to see if you're capable of doing so...
     
  11. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    As of now, I only write shorts, and I have found it increasingly helpful to have more than one project going on at the same time, especially if they are in their 'rough draft' or early stages.. for when I hit a speedbump and cannot find an immediate solution, I switch to a new project and work on that. Usually, this helps me forget about one and focus on the other, while my subconscious works on the former. When I return, the speedbump no longer feels as much of an obstacle.

    My problem deals with what the above posters have mentioned regarding 'finishing' a project. I have no problem finishing projects, but due to my inexperience, I lack the ability to truly see whether it's done or still needs work. This is something I'm learning more and more of as I continue to write. It is possible to work something to death.

    Anyway, that's my two cents. I think the process of working on multiple projects is definitely a good thing. Keeps the juices flowing, the mind constantly working. Generating ideas is the writer's greatest tool, and you can't do that as well if you let your mind grow stagnant.
     
  12. Malkhalifa
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    Malkhalifa Member

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    Thanks guys. @EDfromNY : You bring up a pretty good point, I'm thinking maybe the competition for attention might turn into a bigger problem than the snag, for me.

    @Mammamaia: It's my first attempt at a novel, so your advice and Ed's make me think I might be better off working on my first project. I think i'll just store the blurb somewhere on my notice board and come back to it after this project is done. Might be a year though, if not more.

    Off topic for you veteran writers: does writing get easier/ more efficient after the first book?
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't find it easier, but I think that's because I'm working on more sophisticated and difficult stories now than I was when I started. Also, I care more now about my use of language and my prose style in general than I did in my teens and early twenties. That's what happens, I guess, when you start reading masters of prose like James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Anthony Burgess, etc. - you challenge yourself more.
     
  14. Mauthos
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    Mauthos Member

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    The best advice I was given regarding this topic was: Just write.

    Like everything practice makes perfect. I generally have a novel on the go, a few short stories, fanfic etc all at once. It gives me the possibility to just write everyday and I tend to get ideas for the novel whilst writing a short story and vice versa. I find this is a very useful tool which also avoids the dreaded writers block.

    Yes, it is good to finish things, but no one has said that means you must only work on one thing at once.
     
  15. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    I heard some advice once that you should have as many projects going as you can. It helps you avoid writer's block.
     
  16. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you can do it then go for it.

    It depends on your motivation, capabilities and other obligations.The key to managing multiple projects is prioritising and dividing time evenly. :) I'll use my own work as an example, if that's alright:

    I'm currently working on four projects (a novel and three scripts) simultaneously. I'm doing well at staying on top of these as well as managing the related paperwork and other non-writing related responsibilities, so I'm also working on two short stories for my own enjoyment at the same time.

    The three scripts are all for the same company and they're all due on Tuesday. I've three months until the novel is due. The novel is much more fun because I get to be as creative as I like with it (the scripts aren't for fiction, unfortunately :(), but it's not my number one priority. Two of the scripts are in late stages and the other is still on the first draft, so I've set individual days to get each of them finished by (Friday, Sunday and Tuesday). I don't stop for the day until I'm happy with the progress I've made unless I've hit a block and need to take some time away from them. I often use the novel writing as a reward for the script work. If I don't make sufficient progress with the scripts then I don't allow myself to just work on the novel instead - progress on the novel isn't going to the other projects completed. However, I still have a goal of writing 4 pages a day on the novel.

    I only get to work on the two short stories if I'm happy with my progress on everything I need to write and I feel motivated to do so - but I still want to get them both finished by the end of the month. Even setting a deadline for 'hobby writing' works in the same way as long as you can stick to it. I imagine it would require more discipline to stay motivated, but it's how I used to manage when I wrote only as a hobby. In 2009 I worked on four novels and a novella simultaneously and finished all of them by the dates I set because I stuck with it.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    for some it does... for others, not...
     

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