Multiple Projects

projects

by Georgina Makalani

There are differing schools of thought as to whether it is a good idea to work on different writing projects at the same time, or focus all of your energy on one project at a time.

For some of us there will be little choice, or we have very different things on the go at once. Such as, a blog/website and our writing. But what about trying to write several books at once?

 

Here are some options for working on multiple projects:

Different types of writing

Blogging verses fiction

We all have different projects on the go, you can’t simply focus on blogging and ignore that novel or vice versa. Most of us have day jobs that involve some forms of writing. Most of my reporting at work is financial, but I am still able to sit down at lunch time and work on my fiction.

 

Writing projects at different stages

Drafting verses Editing/Proofing

I like the idea of trying to get as much out as possible. If I don’t start the next novel until the last one is going out the door it will be years between novels, many years.

 

Serious verses Play

We all have work we want to be taken seriously, or are polishing to a standard for publication. Try something experimental such as a silly short story in a different genre for your writers group or create a poem or song that might fit into your current work. Creating something fun and different takes the pressure off, and may free the mind to refocus on the serious writing.

 

I think working on multiple projects helps in preventing or combating writers block. If you get stuck with one work, you can move to the other to free the mind and keep the writing flow going. This may not work for everyone and I strongly recommend against drafting several stories or novels at the same time. I would also stress not trying to work on too many projects at one time. We don’t want to cause greater pressure on ourselves, it would not help any of the writing you do.

Plotting verses Pantsing

To outline or not to outline?

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I’m a pantser. I don’t mind that you know it, I’ve tried not to be, fought the urges, scribbled on index cards and drawn mind maps. But it doesn’t work for me. I need to just write, start with an idea and let it flow, let the story and the characters find their own way.

I do realise that lots of people out there think that this is not the best way to write, that a story needs structure and backbone before the words hit the page. But it is an individual thing and all of us write differently.

It is not that I think outlining will kill my creativity. I don’t, really. But once I have an idea for a story I would rather start the words flowing and see where it leads. For some smaller/shorter stories I have outlined first but there was a different method here. I was struggling to find something to write about and so started playing with ideas, mapping out where they could lead to and how the story could end and then started the writing.

I let the words flow and then pull the threads together at a later point, either towards the end of the first draft, or once I have finished the first draft. Producing an outline at this later stage of the writing process means that I already know where the story is headed. Others like to know where they are going before they start.

There are different levels of outlining. Some writers produce an in depth outline, others a rough, dot point style list, and others somewhere in between.

 

Advantages of Outlining

  • Clearly defined path before you start
  • Plot twists and foreshadowing required mapped out
  • Reduced need to rewrite
  • Can take any form you like

Disadvantages of Outlining

  • takes up writing time to map before you start
  • pre-determined path may not be as good as you thought once writing

 

Advantages of Pantsing

  • Narrative forces driving the story forward
  • Discovery as the story unfolds directly from the unconscious
  • Liberating, free form of writing
  • Freedom to follow new ideas as they occur

Disadvantages of Pantsing

      • Rearranging, reworking and rewriting will be required.
      • May write yourself into a corner that you unable to find a way out of

 

I am not stating that one way is right or wrong (or left as the BFG would have it) and there will be times when I try the other side. At the moment pantsing is right for me.

What kind of writer are you, a plotter or a pantser?

Are you heading in the right direction?

The first month of the year has slipped by already.

‘We tend to wish our lives away, wishing for something better,’ someone said at the water cooler this morning. ‘Nearly another weekend.’

‘I’m not wishing mine away,’ I thought. ‘I’m working toward something better.’

Are you wishing your life away or do you know what you want? Where you want to be?

This year marks some big decisions for me. This has meant some big changes and maybe some hard times (including squashy times as I’m living in my parents’ spare room) but I think the sacrifice is worth it to move closer to what I want.

The first step (actually made late last year) was to think about whether I was on the right track. Was I going where I wanted to go?

The answer: Not quite.

I was losing belief in ever reaching my goal, meandering toward it on a path that was becoming overgrown and hard to navigate.

Thinking about where you want to be involves asking yourself a lot of important questions. Thinking deeply and meaningfully about what is important to you and the way you spend your time, and how that impacts on those around you. (There are times I consider spending my life living in a shack on a beach somewhere scribbling away in the sun, living off the change I earn collecting flotsam – but probably not ideal for my daughter.)

It is important to note here that there is a difference between dreaming and goal setting. But I think dreaming is a great place to start, or maybe that is because I’m a day dreamer. And don’t worry about whether you have the skills for this ideal life, we will discuss that in a later post.

At a talk presented by fantasy writer Lian Tanner, last year, something she said stuck with me: She had met writers she felt were better writers than she. Yet she was published and they were not.

The reason: Lian was determined. Pure tenacity. She wanted to write and so spent the time and energy writing as best she could.

Anything you want to do will require you to work at it. Finding something meaningful will mean life will be far more enjoyable and dedication will be easier.

 

Action: Where do you want to be? What is your ideal life in five or ten years?

Spend some time thinking about…

  • Your values
  • What you enjoy
  • Where you are happy
  • What is important to you
  • Why it is important

Make a list or mind map or diagram and define your destination.

Mine?

I want to write engaging stories that pull readers into another world. And I want to do that full time, spending my days lost in the worlds I’m creating.

When you know the destination, you can map the path to get there…and that is a story for another time.