The Juggle

Back in my pantsing days, it was not at all uncommon for me to jump from one project to another, following the trail of the elusive muse and working on whatever project I was jazzed about.  This led to a lot of good beginnings and not a single finished manuscript.  As I made my transition from pantser to plotter, from amateur to professional (and I do not think pantser is synonymous with amateur, it just was for me personally), I gravitated away from that habit and made myself buckle down on a single project, angst and missing muse be damned.  THAT led to finished manuscripts.  So it’s a policy I’ve stuck to over the last several years.  Whenever a Sexy Next Book sat up and said “OOO, pay attention to ME!”, I’d open a blueprint, jot down all the important information, and go back to the active project.

So it’s actually with a bit of surprise that I find myself with two active projects: my YA paranormal DOTH and a Mirus novella Longest Night.  When LN popped up, I actually set DOTH aside to start it because it’s been AGES since my Mirus characters have deigned to speak to me, and it seemed wise to go with it.  I got it plotted out, even started it before I left for vacay.  Then last night I sat down to pick up the next scene.  Nothing.  Nada.  Not a word.  The two phone calls I got during my writing time didn’t help with that.

So I opened DOTH back up, read the previous scene.  And ripped out 661 words in my last 20 minutes of my writing block.  This morning I spewed out another 782.  Apparently in the downtime, my brain worked out some kinks in DOTH I wasn’t even aware I had.  No doubt that’ll slow down again, then I can switch back over to LN and work on it.  For the first time in my life, it seems that having multiple projects might actually be a good thing.  Except instead of actively trying to work on both each week, I’m just gonna go as long as I can with whatever is clicking before switching over to the other one when I get hung up.  This will also hopefully help me in my quest this year of increasing my total number of writing days.  A LOT of time has been wasted in the past, staring at the screen on a scene that wasn’t working.  So we’ll see.

What about you?  Do you juggle projects?  Keeping one on the backburner for the slow times?  Or do you abso-positively have to stick to one thing at a time?


12 thoughts on “The Juggle

  1. It’s hard for me to imagine you as a panster. You’re so organized and your planning sheets are excellent.

    As for the dual projects, I’m no good at that. I’ll jot down new ideas as I get them, but that’s about it. I have a one-track mind, lol.

  2. I’m so happy that you’re able to bounce back and forth between projects! I bet this will be very helpful for you — as it is for me! I like being able to juggle multiple projects at different stages of being. Like, for example, drafting one project and making revisions on another (which is coming up in my future). Not only does that allow for freshness of universe, story, and characters, but also freshness of brain function, as drafting and revising use different headspaces, at least for me.

    Good luck with both DOTH and LN! (Note: Whenever I read DOTH, I imagine it said in this very grad, British-Klingon hybrid accent.)

  3. I try to refrain from juggling, I usually end up dropping something on my feet. Seriously, two stories I juggled turned into one good one. Presently I have an edit and three current wips. When I can I concentrate on one.

  4. I go through the same process. I’ve learned to shove all the tempting just-barely-started or somewhere-really-good projects in the back drawer in order to get one completely finished. But I do bop around between the others when I need to take a short break from the priority project. It’s sometimes very hard to ignore the others, and not get carried away by a brand-new idea. Like you, I make some notes and get a small start. That way, I can tuck it safely away, knowing that I haven’t lost the inspiration and can go back to it when I have the time.

  5. I tend to have at least two projects going at once. One main project and one still in the planning/plotting stage. I find it helps to have something else to work on when I hit a roadblock with my main project.

  6. I LOVE working on simultaneous projects! It has both pros and cons, IMO. Pros: as Claire said, freshness of universe, gives your brain a break from one project if you’re stuck, ect. Cons: sometimes you prioritize one project over the other, and the other one suffers. I think you have to be pretty self disciplined to tackle two projects at once, but you have discipline in spades. 🙂

  7. I’m a semi-pantser. I tend to plot out a rough idea of what’s happening. This usually comprises of the first eight chapters. As I begin writing, I tend to get a better feel for the characters and what will happen with or to them. During this early stage, I then start to fill out character sketches, settings, and even a short synopsis for each chapter. By about 20% of the way through I’ve usually worked out how it might end.

    I’ll essentially write about 1,000-2,000 words on each chapter before moving on to the next so that my novel is very skeletal (about 30% of overall length) but much easier to see what may or may not work. I can then tweak the chapter synopses, add and plump where appropriate, slowly working my way to a full manuscript (though never perfect, of course).

    I find a full plan far too rigid for me as my imagination only really seems to take hold in the ‘doing’ stages.

  8. I was absolutely the same way. You can imagine how hard it was for me to finish Six Keys when the idea for Compis came along, but I did it, and that was my first real success at finishing a novel. For now, the only things I let myself work on during novel writing are short stories, and then only if I JUST CAN’T GET THEM OUT OF MY MIND. I recently had a couple like that. 🙂

  9. I used to be a “one project at a time” kind of girl. “Quickest path to getting where you want to go is a straight line” and all that. But then I started doubling up on projects, sometimes throwing as many as three into the mix, and I’ve found a nice balance there. Instead of getting bent out of shape because I got stuck on Story 1, I can set it aside, work on something else, then come back to it later without feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything. Juggling stories helps keep me actively writing, and prevents me from feeling burned out on any one story. Less stress = more fun = more productivity.

    I didn’t use to be a plotter either when I first started. (Boy, has that changed!) Something I’ve been trying the past week or so is storyboarding scene ideas for a project on index cards right before I go to bed. They say our minds continue to work on things in our sleep. I’ll scribble out plot ideas until I hit a wall (or my eyelids are too heavy to hold open anymore). Then I set them aside, sleep on it, and when I come back to them the next night I usually have a more concrete idea of where I want things to go (and what scenes I want to go back and tweak). The best part is you get to work curled up in bed while sipping on a glass of milk… or wine. 😉

  10. I juggle. This month, I wrote two short stories—one an urban fantasy, one classic fantasy—and I’m finishing a classic fantasy novel in the same world but with a different POV character as the short story.

    Next month, I’ll be putting the final touches on that novel, hopefully finishing an urban fantasy novel, and writing 3 short stories related to that urban fantasy novel.

    Oh, and there’s a futuristic fantasy novelette I’m also working on. 🙂

    I like juggling. 😀

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