Good morning, fellow writers!
Today’s blog post is about working on two projects at once, and the pros and cons of doing this. Be it two novels, a novel and a short story, a short story and a script or any of the hundreds of possibilities, I hope this post will help you (and me!) make a decision.
My thoughts on this arose around a month ago. Currently, I’m around 40,000 words into a novel I’ve been plotting and meaning to get on with writing for a long time. It is a contemporary murder mystery and I’m really enjoying it, though of course I constantly hit all the usual struggles; writer’s block, lack of motivation, plot holes…
…and then around a month ago an idea came to me from nowhere for what I think would be a children’s fantasy story. It’s new and therefore exciting, the ideas are coming thick and fast and I just want to write it! However, I already took a year away from my current WIP (work in progress) and don’t want to lose site of it again. So what do I do? I’m currently still deciding, and thought it’d be cool to weigh up the pro’s and con’s in my blog, instead of privately, so that anyone in the same predicament can use this list to help them too. If you can think of anything, positive or negative, to add please comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
1. It Gives you a Break
Sometimes there’s no harm in taking some time away from your story. Particularly between drafts, when you want to come back to it with fresh eyes. Working on another project allows you that breathing space and takes you out of that story, so when you return you can look at it without the perspective of someone who’s had their head in it every day for however long!
2. It Keeps you Writing
Whether you’ve turned to another project for a break or simply because you couldn’t resist that new idea bubbling away in the back of your mind, if you choose to work on it then it’ll keep you writing. We all know that the best thing any writer can do is just write and having two (or more) projects on the go helps you to do this then that’s no bad thing.
3. It Keeps your Creativity Flowing
Sometimes you simply can’t fight through the writer’s block that’s pushing you away from your WIP. And the worse thing to do when this happens would be to not write at all. If you’re working on a second project then you’ll always be able to keep those creative juices flowing and you’ll probably even find that as you push forward with it, you’ll solve what’s blocking you in your WIP. The important thing is that it will keep that story telling mind ticking over.
4. It’s Good Practice
Even the most successful, most famous and most iconic of writer’s can be quoted telling us that writing is hard, that there are no rules, that no-one has quite figured it out yet. I’ve always found this quite comforting; that I’m not doing anything wrong I just need to keep going. Any writing you do is practice; you’re perfecting the art of story telling, your technique, your ability to form characters with meaning. Surely, no practice can be too much?
1. It’s a Distraction
Working on a second project can be a huge distraction from your main WIP. Especially if this idea came to you later and you’re experiencing that new, ‘love-at-first-site’ emotion towards your latest inspiration. Especially if you’ve been working on your WIP a long time. It would be very easy to accidentally dedicate too much time to the other project/projects.
2. It Can Lead you to Abandon your main WIP
I am speaking here from personal experience. I once had an exciting new idea, I couldn’t resist it. So I took a break from my WIP at the time and took on this new idea with a whole new passion. I told myself I would go back to my WIP, that this was temporary. I didn’t. With all the will in the world, I just couldn’t get myself back to it. Now this has two sides; you could argue that if my new idea was SO much more exciting to me than perhaps the story I’d been working on before simply wasn’t right. But I’m a firm believer in finishing all projects, as this quote from last week’s blog post supports.
3. You Could Lose your Focus
Again, personal preference here; when I’m writing I like to surround myself as much as possible with anything that’ll inspire and encourage me, anything that’ll keep me focused. For example, I’m currently writing a murder mystery set in London. I read a great deal of Murder Mysteries and Thrillers for this reason. I try to spend as much time in London or other cities as possible, I watch TV set in London or about Detectives. Starting a new project, especially if it’s something very different, could really take your focus away from the style of writing and story telling required for your WIP.
4. It’ll Take you Longer to Finish your Projects
Working on one piece religiously will obviously see you finishing much sooner than if you are moving between projects. This is the main factor that has so far put me off of starting the second project my brain is begging me to begin. I don’t want to delay my current novel, I want to get the first draft finished and then keep pushing on.
So what’s the verdict? Clearly there’s pros and cons for each side of this and possibly some I’ve missed. Again, if you have any thoughts on this please comment below, I’d love to hear them and they’ll be really helpful. I think I’m leaning more in favour of only working on it between drafts, while of course keeping notes of all the ideas and inspiration that strikes me for my new story.
Have a great week,