I had a great question posed to me recently, which was how I manage to write more than one book at a time (and if it got confusing). So today I’m going to address this issue. I used to write one book at a time, but this was years ago. I started writing more than one book at a time when I had the first draft blog. Back then, I wrote the 500 words a day in the morning and then another 1000 or more words for another work in progress. So writing more than one book wasn’t something I planned on when I started. It popped up because of the first draft blog. I think I started that blog in the fall of 2009.
So anyway, I wrote one story in the morning or early afternoon to make my 500 words a day goal to post on the blog. Then I’d write another story in the evening. That’s how writing more than one book at a time got started.
I don’t remember when I added a third or a fourth book to the list, but I know it was because I had so many story ideas that I couldn’t just pick one or two books to write. It’s very hard to choose what I’m going to write next because so many ideas appeal to me. I also find having a variety of books helps keep my mind fresh. If I write just one book or one particular romance subgenre at one time, I get burned out. This is why I do contemporaries, historical westerns and Regencies. Some are more serious and others are more comedic.
I usually work on three to four different books at a time. I used to devote different times of the day to each book. So in the morning, I’d work on one book. Then early afternoon, I’d do another. Then in the evening, I’d do another one. By working on them at different times of the day, I’d establish a routine that made me better able to focus on that particular story at that time.
From there, I have gotten to the point where I can now work on all of the stories at the same time. So it was a progression for me. Now I’m at the point where I am better able to write if I have multiple works in progress. I actually like it a lot more this way because if I get to a point in the book where I’m not sure what happens next, I can work on another book. I have estimated word counts that I aim for each day for every book I write, but those are more guidelines than mandatory goals. They’re there to help me stay focused with what I need to do.
If I’m on a roll with one story, I’ll keep writing in it for as long as the story is flowing. There have been days when I get so involved with one story that I don’t write anything in the other stories. That doesn’t happen often, but if it does, it’s usually at the end of the book. By the last couple chapters, I tend to have full focus and energy that goes into that one book.
Most of the other times, I pace myself with my word counts as if I’m in a marathon. I don’t set aside certain times to write anymore because when my husband retired, him being around the house has disrupted that for me. Now I’m back to writing 10-15 minutes here and there. Despite what some people think, my husband does not understand that when I’m writing I am actually working. He thinks it’s like playing a game on the computer. (I wish it was that easy. LOL) Sometimes I will get to spend an hour or two straight working on a story, but that is not the norm. Just like when I started writing romances in late 2007 and I had toddlers and preschoolers at home interrupting me all the time, I have to write in small chunks of time.
It was very hard to get used to writing that way when my husband retired. I couldn’t effectively write more than a couple hundred words a day for about two months after he came back from Korea. Now I’m used to it and have trouble sitting still and writing for an hour or two straight. I usually get up to do laundry, dishes, or some other chore then come back to the computer. It’s really about what you’re used to and developing a system that works for you and your lifestyle.
I currently am in “story mode” at all times, which means even if I’m not writing, I’m planning out what scenes to write for either today or tomorrow in my mind. And I do usually have all of my works in progress weaving in and out of my thoughts during the day. I’m able to keep them all straight because the characters are so real to me that they are unique people, each with their own personalities and their own circumstances.
Also, I allow myself to take days off if I start feeling exhausted. Sometimes I know what happens next in the story but the energy isn’t there. I will take the day off. I try not to take more than two days off. If I take a week or longer off, it takes about two weeks of steady “trying to write” days before I’m finally able to meet my daily word count goals for each book. Also, I don’t sweat the word count goals a whole lot. If I don’t make the word counts for the day, I start the next day fresh as if I did. This means if I only write 500 words in a book that I have a 1000-words-a-day goal for, I will start off tomorrow with 1000 words goal. I don’t compound my word goals into 1500 words for tomorrow. Each day starts out fresh and new as if I met my word goals the day before.
I also set aside time for family and friends and non-writing activities that I enjoy. I think it’s important to have a good balance in life. I think the balance does wonders for creativity. It’s not really about meeting word count goals every day as it is with making each story the best story it can possibly be. Some books take a little longer than others because some characters need more time to tell their story. But I’ve also learned that if I try to force a story along or go against the characters’ leading, the story ends up suffering for it and will need to be rewritten. I hate rewriting because it ends up taking away time I could spend on another book, so if a story slows to a grinding halt, I put it aside and work on something else (which is another great reason to write more than one book at a time).
Sorry if this post seems to be disjointed in thought. During the course of writing it, I had two interruptions. 🙂