One of the questions someone asked me a few weeks ago was what I thought of juggling multiple WIPs (works-in-progress). Yay or nay?
I’m ALL FOR juggling multiple projects. Honestly, it’s kind of the only option once you’ve sold a book–you’ll be revising one or more books, drafting others that are under contract, and then hopefully writing more stuff for your own creative pleasure. You really will have no choice but to change directions and shift between projects on a dime.
That said, I’ve always been a person with multiple WIPs going on at once. My Muse is (as I think I’ve mentioned) a flighty, fickle creature. She likes to overload me with inspiration for Project A for three weeks…and then zip away to Project B for three weeks. Something about shifting from one project to the next helps recharge my batteries. Before I get too worn out on Project A, I move to Project B. Then when I return to Project A, I’m recharged and re-inspired.
Of course, this leads to a TON of half-finished projects…
Just to give you an idea of how many recent-ish projects I currently have lying around…
- Something Strange and Deadly book 3 editorial revisions (which will be under deadline and should arrive any day)
- Truthwitch (my current Muse-inspired obsession that has 50K written; I expect it to be ~110K+)
- Screechers (90K written of the third version–at least 100K words have been tossed; I expect it to be ~110K+)
- YA Mystery (60K written; I expect it to be ~90K)
- MG fantasy (5K + detailed synopsis written; I expect it to be ~50-60K)
- Space Opera (coauthored story with Sarah J. Maas; 60K written; we expect it to be ~120K)
- Nautilus (coauthored MG with Sarah; 30K written; project put on hold indefinitely)
Clearly some projects are farther along than others. I would estimate that since I began writing Something Strange and Deadly in 2009, I have written close to 1,000,000 words. At least. A lot of them were bad and got thrown out to make way for rewrites and better words. But a lot of the words stayed too.
No words were wasted–not a one. With each new book and draft and idea, I learn more about my writing. I become a better writer, a better storyteller, and a generally happier person (it’s true; zen is found in the growing).
AND, had I been paying better attention, I would have learned how to write “good” first drafts a long time ago by paying attention to the books that poured out of me–the books I wrote when I needed an escape from my contracted books and deadlines. The books I wrote when I was coauthoring with Sarah. But that’s a story for another time.
Interestingly enough, what has actually been hard for me is to dig in and ONLY work on one project when I’m under deadline. Book 3 is the perfect example of a time when I had to keep my head down, ignore all those shiny side projects on the side, and power on for more than three weeks. (Of course, during book 3, I finally figured out how to keep my Muse from being so ADHD, and that, my friends, has been life-changing.)
So, now that I have overwhelmed you all with more information than you EVER wanted to hear, the simple answer is: Yes, juggling multiple WIPs is good…but only if it jives with your creative process. If you aren’t the kind of person who does well with a ton of stuff going on at once, then shave off as much external noise as you can! You’ll learn to cope with multiple deadlines and projects once publication time comes, but until then, keep things simple.
But if you ARE like me and juggling multiple WIPs helps keep your muse happy, then by all means, go for it!
You tell me: how do YOU feel about juggling multiple projects?