Over the past three years, I’ve written seven novels and two novelettes. While I only have two novelettes and one novel published, I have found a pattern in the way I approach projects. I usually have two going at the same time.
That doesn’t make sense: Two stories at once? How do I keep my sanity?
Everyone is different, so this might not work for you, but I find that working on two projects keeps me motivated. However, I can only do this if both pieces have entirely different tones.
For example, I wrote My Summer Vacation by Terrance Wade, a fun, child-friendly adventure story (with bits of comedy for adults) simultaneously with The Unanswerable, an Ebola apocalypse novella (pending publication). Terrance is rather uplifting, while The Unanswerable is a moody, dark atmosphere.
Currently, I’m working on two young adult novels. One is In a Blue Moon, a fairytale retelling/apocalypse, which features a snarky main character. It’s fast-paced, action-packed, and has a lot of attitude. The other is Girl Nevermore, a contemporary piece with an emotional coming-of-age story where my main character’s internal thoughts take the forefront.
People ask me how can I balance working on two pieces at a time, but it’s easy when the projects are vastly different. The work fit my mood, and I switch between the two accordingly.
This time, I’m also approaching each project differently. I am writing In a Blue Moon in sections, one chapter at a time. I write the draft, edit it five times, and then move onto the next chapter. I am drafting Girl Nevermore entirely before I go back and edit it.
This method allows me to have an almost-finished project when I complete In a Blue Moon, and if I’m really not in the mood to edit, I can draft Girl Nevermore.
Having two projects gives me options, so I never get bored with my writing. If it ever feels forced or stale, I switch projects. I can keep the characters separate in my head without ever cross-over in style.
How about you? Do you have too many ideas to focus on one at a time? Or do you work on one story at a time until it is finished?
If you are interested, the entire first chapter of _In a Blue Moon_ is available here.
Now, if you are asking, “Why aren’t all of your pieces published if this method works so well for you?” I’ll give you the short answer: They are not ready, and I’ve become a better writer since the first few novels. The older the piece, the more editing it needs. I enjoy drafting more than editing (don’t most writers), so it’s hard for me to find the motivation to go back and edit. This is why I’ve developed a new approach to In a Blue Moon, but I’m pairing the editing with drafting so I don’t get bored.
Tl;dr: Find a method of drafting and editing that works for you and don’t let anyone tell you that it’s the “wrong” approach. If it works, there’s nothing wrong about it.