Monday 27 July 2020

Juggling Two Projects - The Creative Process


It's been a long time since I talked about writing two projects at once (piece found here), but I thought that I would broach the subject again because it's something I do a little differently now that I've been doing it for as long as I have. At the end of the day, I'm not a rare unicorn, a lot of writers will juggle projects, and they'll do it better than me, but I also now have, usually, two other projects on the periphery that I haven't talked about before.

So, the long and short of it is, that I used to be a one project writer. I couldn't think of how to write two and my focus was all over the place. It wasn't until I was writing Waiting On You, that I got a severe case of writer's block and found myself stuck. At that point in time, I had the idea for the fourth Dying Thoughts book, but I didn't want to dump the project I was working on to start it. Making a deal with myself, I would write up to the same amount of chapters with the new idea, and then reassess where this stood. At the end of that, I was hooked on writing both stories, and I've not really looked back since.

You all know all of that, so what are the two other projects that I have going on? Well, usually while writing the two first drafts, I'm also revising a project that's due to go into edits at some point soon. So on the days when I'm not writing, I'll be working on revisions and getting those chapters written and all the rest. Since I also have stuck to the schedule to release two books every year, I also usually have a book at some point in the editing trenches. So right now for example, I have my two first drafts, revisions for Lights Off, and line edits for Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge. And while the edits for Twinge will end in September, I'll have a couple of months before the process starts again for Lights Off.

People are probably wondering why I'm telling you this, and what it has to do with juggling the two writing projects, and the answer is simple, the reason I'm able to juggle all of that, is because of how I plan my time. It's about being organised, being strict with myself, and knowing ahead of time what will be doing what when. So do I have any tips? Yes! Glad you asked!

I say it like that because the reason I'm able to juggle all of this is because I am highly aware of my limits. I know what I can achieve and how long it'll take me. I'm acutely aware of just how much is too much for me to manage, and I make sure that when taking on a project, be it revisions or edits or a brand new book, that I know how I'm going to manage it with both my health, and my writing, and other commitments as well.

Following NaNo 2019, I stopped doing 24 chapters a month as standard. It was, to begin with, a way for me to slow down after such a heavy month. But now over six months later and I've only done one month that was also 24 chapters and that was planned in advance to give myself the best possible outcome. I stick to the 20 chapters because I know, unless something catastrophic happens, I can easily manage that and still take time to recharge and time off and all the rest. So this is a big big tip, you have to know your limits.


This is also a big one for me, because if I didn't have my planner and didn't make sure I knew when I was supposed to be doing what, I think I'd get really overwhelmed pretty quickly. Part of having a lot of big goals and tasks, is breaking them down into smaller chunks and part of that is knowing what you need to do by when to be able to fit it all in. I know that planning comes, somewhat, naturally to me, and it doesn't for everyone, but this was a huge thing in helping me get to the point where I am now.

If you can't plan meticulously, then just make sure that every working day (because you should have breaks and days off) you plan to get just one thing done from one project. Whether that's a chapter, or a word goal, page goal, whatever, just have that one thing in mind, and then go from there. It's how I started out, setting myself one thing I knew I could do and then moving up to other things when I got better at knowing my limits, and planning my time.

This one involves you being honest with yourself about what you can manage, and also being strict with how you spend your time. If you know that you'll spend all day on social media and waste the time and get nothing done, then get an app that stops you from doing that, or learn to have self-control during your writing/working time.  No one else is going to be there to tell you what to do, you have to be the one to do that, and if you can't be strict and stick to your schedule then it's only really setting yourself up to fail.

I will add a caveat here. Being strict with yourself does not mean working at the expense of your health, it means making sure that when you are able to work, you do so, and do what's on the schedule for the day. It doesn't mean beating yourself up, or pushing yourself too breaking point because you've had something else going on, flares, illness, stressful time, etc, whatever that is, you need to be able to take the time you need to rest if nothing else.

So those are my three big tips when it comes to juggling two, or more, projects. I will say that it's only really been the last year or so that I've been able to juggle all of this. Last year I tried to release three books, and I managed it, but everything that could go wrong, went wrong and so this year I'm trying to be kinder to myself, trying to make sure that I'm aware of what I need, whether that's breaking off early to nap, or working first thing in the morning to ease the stress, whatever it is, I listen to my body, and you should too.

So any questions or tips? Lemme know down in the comments!

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