Sometimes it’s hard not to. You get hit upside the head with a great idea, but you know, if you ignore it, it’ll drift away. You’ll look back in a week or a month and it’ll be gone. So you think, I’m just going to jot down some ideas so I don’t forget this amazing idea. Then I’ll get back to my main novel. And then notes turn into paragraphs, and you throw in some dialogue, some description, and before you know it, you’re writing five novels simultaneously. (At least five.)
The problem with this isn’t just how far it pushes back already-fuzzy completion dates. The biggest problem, I find, is that it makes it hard to really live in your worlds, get to know your characters, and write them authentically.
But can it be done? Good Lord, I hope so.
In fact, according to author Stephanie Morrill, doing so is a must. She says she was shocked how often her publisher asked her to work on multiple stories at once:
“As I was finishing up my first draft of Out with the In Crowd (Skylar Hoyt book number two), my editor sent me my edits for Me, Just Different (Skylar Hoyt book number one) so even thought I was really in the writing groove, I had to pause to do my edits. And when I was working on So Over It (Skylar Hoyt book number three), I had to pause to read through proofs of Me, Just Different, content edits for Out with the In Crowd, plus put together a proposal for a new book that my agent wanted to see before she sent it on to my editor.”
So I suppose by not sticking with one novel through completion, I’m developing a useful skill. And yet, Ms. Morrill also believes that it is worth focusing on just one book, if your goal is getting published:
“in my book-flitting days, I wrote based on my whims. Even though I now must work on multiple projects at a time, my whims don’t come into play. There was value in learning how to write something other than what I felt like writing.”
Hmm. Maybe I can narrow it down to three.