Working on Multiple Projects

Perhaps you’re one of those sane people who works on a single project at a time.  You sit down and work on a one thing from start to finish and then, when you’re done, you move onto the next project.

This post is not for you (and I will be sending the Landsquid to TP your house later).

If you’re anything like the writers I hang out with, you’ve got multiple projects you’re working on.  If you don’t, it might be because life is trying to eat you and you barely have time for any projects, let alone more than one.  Or you’re in your first.  Good for you!  It all goes downhill from here.

(Note to self: do not read Ian’s blog before you write your own.)

It’s a complication of time, honestly.  Once upon a time, I worked on a single project at a time too.  You write one novel.  Then you write the next, and the next.  Then you realize you’ve got to edit the things, and then there’s reader comments to incorporate, and then perhaps you decide you’d like to sell them…next thing you know, you’re up to your shoulders in stories in various stages of the process, and nothing’s getting done.

So how do you dig your way out?

The answer is simple: compartmentalization.

The real issue with working on more than one project at a time is that it’s difficult to get your brain to switch between them.  It’s hard to work on your horror short story when, the day before, you were writing fluffy romantic fanfiction.  Your brain gets into these grooves and wants to stay in them, leading to frustration.

The solution is to give each story their place.  This can work a number of ways, and you’ll probably have to experiment to see what works best for you.  You can compartmentalize by location: write one novel at home, a short story at a coffee shop, fanfiction during your lunch break.  Or by time: mornings are novel, afternoons are short stories, weekends are fanfiction.  Or by the color of fingerless gloves you’re wearing.  It’s up to you.

The idea is that you train your brain to expect to work on something specific under specific circumstances, so when your brain finds itself in those circumstances, it knows what to do and it becomes easier to get into the right frame of mind.  It’s the same idea behind creating a writing environment.

Any tricks to share, Squiders?  What works for you?

4 responses to this post.

  1. Absolute genius. I’m going to shop for fingerless gloves in many colors now. Don’t know if it’ll work, but I’ll take the excuse to buy some cool accessories!


  2. Why not read my blog? Were you originally planning to write about sheds, then saw my blog and had to come up with another topic last minute? If so, you need to see a therapist. I see now that had I gone to a therapist, I might not be writing the blog posts I write now. At least there’d be 20% less shed in them.

    (And maybe more cowbell?)


    • I was mostly referring to the sudden burst of cynicism in the middle there.


      • Cynicism? In my writing??

        *re-reads blog*

        Oh, _that_ cynicism. Sorry. Next blog will be all pastel colors and rainbow unicorns (“Charlie! Charlie! Candy Mountain, Charlie!”)

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