Managing to write multiple books at one time without having a nervous breakdown is no mean feat. Having to juggle genres, characters, story plots, research, and different styles can actually have the effect of preventing you from putting pen to paper. We’ve come up with some practical ways of avoiding a meltdown, and getting things done.
1. Write first and always
The famous author Henry Miller had 11 Commandments of Writing. The first one of these is: “Work on one thing at a time until finished.” Now, this is great advice, but a luxury if you are in the situation where you must work on multiple books at one time. That is why you need to forget this particular advice and rather focus on his 11th commandment “Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterward.”
In other words, just do it. Or as the brilliant Chilean author of multiple books in multiple genres, Isabel Allende, put it:“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the muse shows up, too.”
Our advice: Get up every morning and before you do your chores or phone your friends, start writing. Choose any of the books you must work on, and just do it! Don’t aim for perfection or the perfect time to start writing. Just sitting down and getting going will force the muse to eventually show up. Writing is hard work, as Anthony Trollope has pointed out: “My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best.”
2. Choose completely different genres
You will find it easier to work on multiple projects if they are very different in genre. This will help you separate out characters, plotlines and so on. If one of your books is about a one-armed serial killer who stalks his victims while snorkeling, you are not likely to confuse the plot or characters with the other book you are writing, which is about a young girl in the throes of a struggle to get the courts to allow her to undergo a gender reassignment against her parents’ wishes.
Keep your books as dissimilar as possible. This will help you approach each one fresh. When you feel burned out or bored or reach a dead-end on one, the other will awaken your creative juices.
3. Write to music
Some writers swear by using different music to set the mood for what they are writing about that day. A few bars into Mozart’s requiem will remind you that you’re in back in the serial killer mode, and it’s all about death, death, death. On the other hand, if you’re writing a book where the protagonist grows up in the 70s in the USA, listening to the most popular music from that time will take you straight into that zone. Our brains respond to music by evoking different memories, sounds, smells, and imagery.
4. Edit what you wrote before starting on the next section
A practical way to get back into one or other of your books is to review and edit the last section you wrote for that particular book. This may seem pretty obvious, but it is worth reminding yourself to take the time to do so. That way, you’ll get back into the characters, how they speak, how they think, what their next action is. If you lack of time try to use professional editing services like Best Essays or Hammingey App.
5. Keep detailed notes
Many writers keep detailed notes or cards on each character and plotline for each book. This is an excellent way of making sure the characterization is consistent, and the plot is plausible. It’s easy to forget what happened when to whom if you are working on multiple projects. It may seem a drag to be so meticulous with your notes, but it will prevent you from writing about John getting married in Chapter 10 only to discover you had killed him off five chapters earlier. This will mean a whole lot of rewriting and time wasted.
6. Stagger your projects
Apart from writing on different genres, what also helps is to be in different stages of the writing process when you are tackling multiple projects. For instance, you could be researching one, preparing the plot and characterization of another, while doing the final editing of a third book. This helps you to compartmentalize the writing process. Each task is completely different and makes handling many books at once much easier.
It’s hard work focusing on different writing projects at the same time. However, if you approach it using the tips above, you may find the process goes much more smoothly.