Let’s talk about writing.
How many projects are you working on right now? Are they small, big – somewhere in between?
How do you organize these projects, and remain efficient in your every day schedule?
The last question is one I’ve asked myself, at least a dozen times over the course of the past year. Within the year, I came up with a few tips on how to manage multiple projects, with, at the least, some success (the success will depend on how hard you are willing to work).
You need to remember, when you’re writing fiction; diving into, and then retreating from different worlds, your mind can tire easily. This is no joke. Working on multiple projects at once is no easy task, but it is required of a writer if they want even the slight bit of notice. Blog posts, poetry, short stories, novellas; novels, interviews, advertising, queries, essays, etc. – they are all types of writing; all minor or major projects. Though some seem tiny; as trivial and required a task as dicing tomatoes inside a restaurant kitchen for the evening rush, they are all projects that take time, energy, and certain amount of imagination.
Another issue, when working with multiple projects, is productivity. Writers often drag away from their most important, or difficult projects, when dealing with other tasks. This is either because the other tasks seem easier, or just as important in the mind of the writer. Unfortunately, this often keeps them glued to these smaller projects, and less on their main goal.
I took a ride in that boat, and it’s tough to find shore once you’re sent out to sea. Until just recently, I had four medium-major projects on the go, along with several minor ones, not including some of my blog posts, or any queries I’ve sent out. One of these manuscripts is novel called Web of Memories, which I’m prepping to be sent to publishers later this year. Another is the entire rewrite of my Spettra series, mainly for grammar (as I explained in previous blogs, always, always, always find a beta reader, or editor to look over your work). The third is a novelette, with a concept about abandoned houses, and creepy things found inside of them. And the fourth medium-major project: A Split Second in Time. The minor ones were mainly poetry and article submissions.
With one of the Spettra books revised, and Abandoned almost completed, I have shaven off a bit of the weight, but before that, I found it difficult to keep focused, and my biggest project, Web of Memories, started to lose its vibrant world.
You need to do those small projects, don’t get me wrong. Promotions, essays, blogs, poetry – honing your skills by writing everything and anything you can is always a good thing. But becoming scatterbrained in the midst of all this is all too easy. These are some tips I’ve come up with that I hope will help you become more efficient when balancing all these projects.
1. Work your butt off – No way around this. If you want to be a writer, you need to get used to working on multiple projects. No, you don’t need to take on five at once, but a few at a time is a normal thing. It can be tough, at first. I find, however, that a person’s imagination is similar to any other muscle in the body. The more you stretch it, the more you exercise it, the easier it works. Just remember to go at a pace that works for you, and work your way up. There’s no sense in burning out, but that doesn’t excuse you from working your ass off.
Athletes train continuously to perform; chefs take courses and learn new menus; carpenters work on home and side projects to keep their skills sharp; the tree cutter in your backyard does training exercises, and week-long courses to ensure precision and safety. Writing is no different.
Whatever you do, do it to the fullest.
2. When the monkey wants a ride, shake him off – Say you’ve published something, and during a time when you’re already working on something else, it comes to your attention that your published work needs more editing. You don’t want to set aside what you’re working on, so you simply try to balance it out your current project.
Get it done. Take whatever time you need, ignore all else, and get it rid of the problem. Things of that nature seem small, but take an immense amount of time and focus. Plus, do you really want to risk screwing it up a second time? You can get back to your other projects later. Get the monkey off your back.
3. Make a schedule, and try to stick with it – For small things like, poetry, blog posts, etc. I recommend setting aside a few hours each week, doing one or two posts (or if you mainly do posts, whatever gauge works for you). It’s best you’re not strict with these hours. Make sure you get your minor project completed. If your schedule goes over five, ten minutes, don’t worry about it. People work overtime, and so can you. This ensures you get it done, and that you’re still working around the scheduled period.
For your large projects, set aside time every day, and I recommend at least two hours for each project, if not more. If you can’t manage it, then cut down the time, but make sure you’re returning to each project at least once a day. Try to keep a quota; a word count, so you can tell how much you’re getting done, and fix your mindset on that goal each time you write. If you find your failing to hit your quota, then make sure you’re getting an equal amount of words in between the different projects. That way you don’t lose focus on them, and you stay involved in the story. Once again, if you have to go into overtime, so be it.
4. Read your work over, and over, and over… – If you haven’t looked at your manuscript in a while, chances are the story feels cold. This should be a given, if it’s been a long time, say over a month, read over the story back to front. If it’s been a shorter time, say a week, or just a day, read as much as you feel is necessary to get involved. But remember that the more you know about your work, the more involved you are, and the better it will be written.
5. Outline before ending your project for the day- I am a write by the seat of your pants kind of guy. I love to live inside my characters lives, and try to figure things out at the same time that they do. But there’s a problem with this. When you’re working on different projects, juggling different characters from different (or sometimes the same) worlds, it’s easy to get mixed up with what you’re doing. The same happens with the story.
I find, that if you write out a brief outline before you stop writing your piece – usually right after the last written paragraph – it’s much easier to gauge where you were when last absorbed in the work. Your mind gets more attuned to that place, and you remember what you were thinking when you were writing. You don’t have to outline much, just a few points of to jog the memory of your future self.
If you have outlined your whole project, you may not have to worry about it, and if it’s a small project, this may not apply. But if you’re like me, and do minimal outlining; this tip helps to balance out multiple projects, particularly when you need to take a break, whether extended or short.
6. Don’t stress when time isn’t on your side – We all have good days and bad days. Bad days are often slow, filled with mishaps and annoyances that weigh down the needles of time, as much as it seems to speed them up. It’s important not to stress about these days; they happen to anybody. It’s equally important to know what your priorities are, so you can better prepare for them. You’ll find that social media, promoting, or other small tasks, can take a dive, while your major project (novel, essay series, etc.) is normally the best thing to work on. Get back to the smaller projects when you have time, and don’t stress about it.
What do you do to manage your time?
How many projects are you currently working on?
Who do you think will win the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania? 😉
Did you find this blog helpful?
Let me know in the comments below!
Have an awesome day guys!
Spettra has been released again on Kindle! Read what happens when two worlds collide, and a mind is split open, releasing chaos, in this mind bending, psychological thriller.
Check it out here: