How many stories can you write at the same time?

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  • #201591
    silvara
    Participant
    • Topics - 5
    • Replies - 48

    How many projects can you work on at one time? I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head. I can’t seem to pick one to work on at any given time. I feel like I should pick just one to work on and finish it first, but then I feel trapped and can’t pick one, so nothing gets written at all. How do you pick an idea to work with? Do you only work on one thing at a time, or do you have multiple projects going on at one time?

    #231843
    Ashe Elton Parker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 435
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    I usually have at least two projects running at once. My creative mind seems to benefit if I’m able to swing between stories.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #231844
    MarFisk
    Moderator
    • Topics - 561
    • Replies - 15,569

    I try to have different things at different stages at the same time, though that’s not always been possible. So one worldbuilding, one writing, and one editing. Trouble is if they are too close, you can have cross contamination…such as when I wrote trains into the outline of my Regency romance because I was editing a Victorian Steampunk and trains were just beginning then (oops).

    However, it’s doable.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #231845
    J.A. Marlow
    Moderator
    • Topics - 311
    • Replies - 1,100

    I’m another that has multiple project going at the same time, but each of them is at a different stage. That helps me keep them separated mentally. It also allows me to keep working on writing when I’m having problems with a particular project, or I’m in a certain mood. I love the flexibility it gives me.

    As for which project to start on next for a certain stage of the writing process? That can be hard. Mostly, though, I try to do the one I feel the most excited over, unless I’m on a deadline. If I’m on a deadline, I’ll sometimes tell myself that I HAVE to write a minimum number of words (usually 250-1000) on the deadline item, and then I can go write on the current fun-favorite project.

    Ah, the mind-games we play with ourselves. :D

    J.A. Marlow
    The String Weavers, Salmon Run, Redpoint One series.

    Writer alter-ego of Dreamers Cove

    #231846
    zette
    Moderator
    • Topics - 580
    • Replies - 887

    Another multiple project person here. I also generally have stories at different stages, and I’ll be doing pre-work on one (world building, outline, etc.), writing something else and editing another piece.

    Sometimes I have more than one piece going in the writing phase, though. In that case, I have one I designate as the important story, and I have to do X number of words on that story before I can work on anything else. This makes certain that things get done, rather than simply flittering around from one story to another and never really finishing anything. If you are going to be serious about writing, you have to apply some discipline along the way.

    #231847
    KatsInCommand
    Participant
    • Topics - 75
    • Replies - 1,263

    If it’s a novel, one. Otherwise I get distracted and don’t finish. (Although taking a day off the big project once a week to fiddle with a short story *can* help).

    If we’re talking about shorter pieces, I have 3 to 5 in various phases of daydreaming, drafting, revising, and polishing. More than 5 ideas makes me confused to have that many characters around. Three is ideal because I’m actively revising one, I’ve got another waiting to be revised (and I can resolve some issues via the back burner method) and another one something like I’ve been wanting to write but haven’t gotten around to it – and keeping my eyes open for details will usually trigger something I want to use in the story.

    It takes the pressure off while making the creative process more like a fun puzzle.

    #231848
    Gilroy
    Participant
    • Topics - 24
    • Replies - 146

    As others have shown, this is a very personal answer. It’s not what is allowed, it’s what you can handle.

    Personally, I have several projects all running at the same time. When I hit a snag in one, I switch to another while the first one percolates until it gets a break through, then I go back.

    Does this sometimes take longer to finish something? Unfortunately.
    But it is the way my brain works, so I can’t fight it…

    #231849
    macaroni_thief
    Participant
    • Topics - 15
    • Replies - 493

    I guess I’m one of those who can only focus on one thing at a time. I’ve tried time and time and time again to work on different novel projects at the same time, and inevitably one always wins out and the others suffer on the “I’ll get back to you” pile. Some I do, some I don’t. It led to a few half-finished projects, and I dislike half finished things. At first I thought it was that I wasn’t a good enough a writer (or insert general bleh-I-suck-statement here), but really it’s how my brain functions with other stuff too. If I flit around, my attention wavers and peters out, and then nothing gets done. If I focus on one thing, it gets done, even if it takes longer.

    I’ve learned to live with it, knowing that it means I’m not super prolific.

    Still, it doesn’t hurt to work on multiple aspects of writing at once. While I’m knee/hip/eyeball deep in a novel project, I’ll take time to do market research for short stories. Or I’ll edit a short, before the maelstrom of The Obsessive Novel Project takes me back under. If I’m in between novel projects, I do an obsessive bit of binge short story writing.

    If bouncing around to different things works: go with that. If slow and steady with one thing works: go with that. If you’re not sure: try everything you can think of.

    #232060
    MarFisk
    Moderator
    • Topics - 561
    • Replies - 15,569

    Like anything, it doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you do. Your timeline with one at a time may very well be comparable to another’s multiple at a time because everything gets stretched out a bit more.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #231850
    BonnieRS
    Participant
    • Topics - 32
    • Replies - 294

    I used to have lots of things going on at the same time, but I’m finding that as my brain ages, I have less ability to move around and I tend to focus on one thing at a time.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t have several projects under way, just that I’ve been working on only one at a time.

    #231851
    cupiscent
    Participant
    • Topics - 18
    • Replies - 91

    I find having multiple projects on the go is a dangerous habit. My brain is far too undisciplined and eager to find “greener pastures”. When I have multiple stories on the hop, and I hit a problem in one, I won’t solve it if I can just jump ship to another story. I need to keep single-focus in order to browbeat my subconscious into working harder.

    But while I’ll only be actively laying down words on one story at a time, there are always several others under development in the back of my brain. When I finish writing something, I like to have the next one ready to start, and if I have’t done enough preparatory percolating on it, I get tangled up when laying it down. (I actually colour-code in my writing journal: black pen for current project; blue pen for ideas in development.)

    #231852
    brs
    Participant
    • Topics - 3
    • Replies - 9

    Yet another multiproject writer here. Three’s my limit though. If I try to juggle more than three I start to spin in tight little circles from indecision. Three in any variation of stage of completion is all I can handle.

    #231853
    ConnieCockrell
    Participant
    • Topics - 90
    • Replies - 946

    I have multiple projects but limited. I can’t write 2 novels at a time. My brain just doesn’t go that way but I can write the 1st draft of one and edit another. Then I do weekly flash fictions as well and 2 blog posts per week. It took me a while to figure out what works for me. Take your time and do what feels most comfortable.

    #231854
    Michael E. Walston
    Participant
    • Topics - 38
    • Replies - 182

    Just write a page (or paragraph, depending on how prolific you are) a day for each project. It will soon become clear to you which projects you more urgently want to finish. :)

    #232336
    silvara
    Participant
    • Topics - 5
    • Replies - 48

    That may be a useful strategy to try. Thanks!

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