You’re busy writing your latest project, your creativity is flowing, and you get a really great idea—for a totally different short story, poem, or book. What do you do? Abandon your current work in progress, or take on two or more projects at once? The experts at Writer’s Relief can offer some insights into the pros and cons of having more than one writing project. Here’s how to determine how many writing projects you should juggle at once.
Multiple Writing Projects: The Pros And Cons
Pro: Maintains creative engagement. After the initial burst of writing excitement, you might find yourself facing writer’s block or starting to lose interest. The easiest way to prevent manuscript fatigue is to take a break and switch to another writing project! You’ll stay in a creative mindset and will come back to the original piece with fresh eyes and new ideas.
Pro: Easier to ditch duds. Sometimes an idea just doesn’t work out once you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). But if it’s your only project, you may be more reluctant to let go. When you have another writing project in the works, it can be easier to sign off on an idea that’s going nowhere. It’s important to know when you should shelve a writing project.
Pro: Less stress and pressure. If you need to take a break from your current project, you don’t have to worry about what your next project will be—you’re already working on it! There’s also less concern about creating “perfection.” One short story, poem, or book plot may not work out, but there’s another one waiting in the wings. Relax and have fun with your writing, and it may even help you to try a unique direction you might have ignored when feeling pressured to produce a finished piece.
Pro: Gets more work into circulation. With more projects in the works, you’ll be finishing them sooner. Instead of submitting sporadically to literary journals or agents, you’ll be able to maintain a much more consistent schedule and get your work in front of more eyes. The publishing industry rule of thumb for well-written, well-targeted work is 100 submissions to gain one acceptance. When you have more work circulating, you boost your odds of getting published sooner!
If you’re wondering how you’ll find the best places to submit all the work you’re creating, Writer’s Relief can help! Our research experts will pinpoint the best markets and boost your odds of getting an acceptance. We do all the busywork so you can keep writing! Learn more here.
Con: Ideas or characters may bleed through. It’s important to fully separate your projects from each other. When you jump from one project to the other and back again, they could start blending together, and your characters, themes, or plot points may become similar. Be careful to keep each project unique—don’t inadvertently write the same story, poem, or book twice.
Con: It takes more time to finish your projects. Working on more than one writing project at once means your time is divided in halves, thirds, or whatever number of pieces you’re working on. And it can take more time to get into the right frame of mind for each piece—you don’t want your head stuck in the dialogue and settings of ancient Rome when you’ve switched to working on your murder mystery set in Napa Valley or a poem about riding the subway.
Con: Meticulous organization is required. To work on more than one writing project at a time, you need to make a schedule and stick to it. Take careful notes and set reasonable expectations about what you’ll get done and when. Be realistic with yourself about how many projects you can handle at one time.
Con: A project may be neglected. It’s easy to get swept up in something new, which may lead you to abandon one of your other writing projects entirely. Don’t give up on a piece that’s inherently good (but just needs more work) simply because you want to focus all your attention on a different manuscript. Try to schedule time to work on all of your writing projects. But if one piece has lost your interest, it’s okay to set it aside. Before you give up on it entirely, however, revisit the manuscript once your other writing projects are completed. When you’re not distracted by other work, you may find you’re ready to give more time to the manuscript you were avoiding.
Only you can decide how many writing projects you can handle at once. If you’re a great multitasker, having multiple works in progress may help you stay engaged and interested. Use the tips and advice mentioned here to help you stay on track. But if you prefer to focus on one writing project at a time, that’s okay too! As long as you keep writing, you’re on the right track.
Question: How many writing projects are you currently juggling?