I Dropped One! Juggling Multiple Works in Progress
Camp NaNoWriMo is upon us! I am excited, although I’ve been so consumed this month with revising my manuscript from last November that preparation time has been scarce. I am going to be drafting the first book in a new series, and the concept (to be vague, fairy tale retelling meets Greek mythology) has me PUMPED. But I also have a new sci-fi concept vying for my attention, and it’s gotten me thinking a lot about writers who work on multiple things at once.
I’m scattered across the World Wide Web in various writer groups, and someone recently asked a question about whether or not anyone else drafts multiple novels at a a time. The mere thought of it set my head spinning, particularly because this last revision of mine had me going a million different directions with how much plot work was going on.
Do any of you draft multiple works at once? What’s your method? I’m seriously fascinated, because I can’t wrap my head around that.
I do always have multiple works going at the same time, but they’re all in different stages. Right now, I have a second draft completed manuscript, a first draft completed manuscript, a plan-tsed WIP I’m tackling for Camp NaNo (if you want to know what plantsing is, check this out), and the aforementioned sci-fi concept, which I’m still brainstorming. And those are just projects that are actually getting my attention.
I like having all these works going because it keeps my momentum up. If I take a break from writing, it tends to take me quite a while to get back into it, so I prefer to bounce from project to project to project. If I’m brainstorming one while I’m drafting another, that gives me something to work on immediately once the draft is done. I end up having these overlapping projects in a cycle of Brainstorm -> Draft -> Revise, and it’s been pretty productive for me.
What I’ve found is that juggling the different stages of my cycle requires various effort and attention.
My Brainstorming stage tends to be more sporadic. I have the initial idea, and for weeks after that I jot down various bits of inspiration, events I want to happen, character names, and any relevant research. I can easily do this in short spurts, and I don’t necessarily have to sit and buckle down for Brainstorming. So it’s small, like a baseball. It’s easy to toss around at any given point.
Drafting, on the other hand, requires a LOT of time. I have to sit down for hours and hours, rid myself of all distractions (no music, no internet, no puppy whining for my attention) in order for my drafting time to be productive. Juggling that part of the process is more like tossing around a chainsaw. I need to be really focused. (Because there’s a chain on it and it’s on and could kill me.)
Revising, for me, falls somewhere in between, because it’s a combination of brainstorming and drafting. I took a while to read through my manuscript and decide what needed to be changed, what needed to be moved, and what needed to be axed entirely. Then I drafted new scenes, overhauled old ones, and shifted things around. If anything, I’d say it’s like juggling a bowling pin. You have to catch it in the right spot and it’s kind of a funky shape.
I think the level of difficulty, time, and effort attached to each of these stages will differ for every writer. I know writers who breeze through the drafting stage, but struggle with revising. Or ones who love revising, but brainstorming is really hard. I’ve gotten into a really good groove with these stages, but it used to be that I only worked on one at a time. Whatever stage I was in had the whole of my attention, and all of the other parts got dropped from the cycle.
Nowadays, my journal is filled with revision notes right next to brainstorming notes, right across the page from a rough character sketch for my new WIP. It’s important for me to take advantage of the ideas as they come, even if I don’t have the time to actually draft them right then.
Now, that’s what works for me. There’s nothing wrong with focusing only on one stage of one work at a time. You have to feel out the rhythm that fits you and your writing best. I’m just a little ADD, and when I get the creative juices flowing for one particular work, that tends to inspire me for my other projects as well.
I’m off to fire up the chainsaw.
Any of you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? Add me as a friend!
Copyright © Teresa Morse 2015