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Working on more than one story at a time: good or bad. (1 Viewer)

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PenCat

Senior Member
Maybe the answer depends on the writer.. I have more than one story in me, and while they’re obliquely related, one is not a rehash of the other..not even close.

Could it be helpful to my stories for me to work on two or more concurrently?

My idea/wish
is that:

  • Working on one, then another could fight fatigue that comes from being too focused on one project
  • getting away from one story, working on, solving problems for, one story could loosen loosen log jams in the other in the way one gains insight into a problem by thinking about something else for awhile.

My fears over doing this:
  • I might use this practice as an escape
  • It might dilute both works..my focus spread too thinly
  • each story might begin to take on flavors of the other

Advice given here often is to write other things besides one’s main work or genre.

thoughts on all of this, please?

thank you!
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
Occasionally I work on two stories at a time, and I find that it's really quite stimulating. I try not to make it a habit however, because the only drawback that seems to occur is when both plots get jumbled in my mind. Otherwise, I have never really seen a problem with it. The only thing I would recommend is to keep a notepad handy so you can make points/notes about both stories on separate pages, in case you run into that jumble problem.

-JJB
 

RhythmOvPain

Senior Member
I spent a great deal of time diversifyiny time between stories. I find that while it's good for creativity's sake, it's a horribly inefficient way to write.
 

Ultraroel

Senior Member
I write several, I might run out of inspiration for the one, but have bubbly ideas for the other story. I just need a little time to get back into the tone of voice that I use for that story. Mostly the POV though
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Media Manager
This is a roundabout way to answer the original question, so humor me.

Writer's block for me is typically caused by me running into an intersection in the story. I get to a point where I have to make a critical decision that could potentially make or break the story, or cause me to write myself into a corner. Other times I simply don't feel that my planned storyline is underwhelming...but I cannot think of something really good.

So instead of spinning my wheels, I switch to another story and leave that first novel to ferment in my subconscious. By the time I write a chapter or 2 of that other book, the solution comes to me and I go back and finish that first book. In a few cases I have written entire novels before I found the inspiration to finish the first book (my current WIP is an example.)

Orson Wells used to say "We will sell no wine until it is time."
Granted, that motto was to sell that swill wine* of his, but the philosophy applies to writing.
Never feel that you HAVE TO write that story right now. If the ideas are not ready yet, or if you find the plot underwhelming, then shelve the damned thing until you have some better material. Go work on something else in the meantime.



*I once had my stomach pumped after drinking too much of that swill :0
 

Terry D

Retired Supervisor
It works for some writers. Others tend to end up with a dozen started stories that never get completed because the author never developed the discipline to stick it out when they got stuck. Starting is easy, it's the finishing that takes work. Many pro writers work on several projects at once, but they have learned how to finish. It is up to each individual.
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
I absolutely have to be working on more than one project. I have a style of writing, but my topics are so varied that they don't usually co-mingle. And I have found when I get to a point where I feel I am just typing in words, if I step away and work on something else, then come back, I have a fresh look at what I have done and can move forward. Sometimes I think this is pretty good and other times it's what was I thinking?? Either way, I get a lot of insight into what is working and what isn't.
 

Roac

Senior Member
I often have multiple works in progress. Some get finished, some are just started, some are continually tinkered with (they never seem to be quite right). However, if I have a deadline, I tend to just focus on the one story.
 

Skodt

WF Veteran
WF Veterans
Never two full length works at a time, but sometimes a novel and a short story can work, for me. I tend to have about a million ideas for stories, but as we know no-one has that amount of time to write a million stories, so I try to focus on one so I don't get too distracted. Otherwise I figure I would have about 50 started stories and zero finished ones.
 

bookmasta

WF Veterans
I've only worked on two manuscripts simultaneously when one was being edited and the other was being written. Otherwise, it takes too long for me to finish whatever I'm writing at the time.
 

Von_Mitchell

Senior Member
I find that it's nice to have two in the works that are different genres, or at least different settings so I don't get burnt out
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
Never two full length works at a time, but sometimes a novel and a short story can work, for me. I tend to have about a million ideas for stories, but as we know no-one has that amount of time to write a million stories, so I try to focus on one so I don't get too distracted. Otherwise I figure I would have about 50 started stories and zero finished ones.

Yes, I find this works best for me too. When I need to take a break from my main piece, I indulge in poetry, flash fiction, or a short story. I also make time to read because, in spite of what some say, I do find it helpful with my writing.
 

Larry

Senior Member
I usually have several things going on at once. As others have mentioned, it works for some writers, and not for others. At the moment, I'm working on a novel, a non-fiction book about teaching, and a book of flash fiction stories. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a limerick that was cleverly written, so I dove into limerick writing (submitting two groups of such poems to two different magazines.)

While my unfinished novel has been stalled for several months, I regularly revisit the unfinished flash fiction stories, and am usually able to complete one every few days, and I might write a blog piece. When inspiration strikes for the novel, I will probably concentrate on that until it's finished, or I again run out of gas.

If something isn't working, I switch to something else that might be.
 
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