Multiple Novels

This could perhaps be posted in the incorrect location; if it is, I certainly apologize! :slight_smile:

Do any of you end up working on multiple projects/novels at once? If so, how do you handle it? Or do you finish each work before starting a new one?

I keep getting interesting ideas that I want to use, but they don’t really fit together sometimes, and I then consider starting something else. I try to talk myself out of it, as I am not sure how productive one can be if they had several projects going on at once…

I’m sure there is no “right” answer, but… Meh. Curious on your thoughts on the matter.

I come from a background of writing TV scripts, against a deadline. When I was writing those, week in, week out, there was always a proportion of my brain working on a script, planning ahead, reviewing in my head what I’d already written, whatever I was doing (even down the pub, and probably even in my sleep). Writing a novel, I’d similarly want it to be the very best I could make it, and similarly I can’t imagine not applying the same intensity of brainpower, and so I can’t imagine writing a second or third alongside it. And so, generally speaking, yes, I’d definitely finish one before starting a new one. (And that, as far as I know, is the practice of the vast majority of professional novelists too.)

There are three or four exceptions to this that I can think of. One is if I were writing a series of novels, all inter-linked. In those circumstances, I’d look at the series as effectively one story, and I might dip into, and write, different parts of the story - and therefore different novels - at different times. Another exception might be if I were writing purely for pleasure, not money (and not against any deadlines). Another might be if I found that problems with the work-in-progress simply couldn’t be solved at the time; just possibly abandoning it for a while might help. And yet another, of course, might be if I discovered that I could carry all the subtleties of plots and characters of more than one story around in my memory without losing track of anything (I know that I can’t, and I can’t write everything down as reminders, but perhaps some people can). But even then there’d be a risk: you could find that you’re failing to make progress on Novel A, so you start Novel B, but Novel B runs into the sand, so you start Novel C - and so you end up with a lot of unfinished stories. Some might call this procrastination.

I keep a log of ideas. That way, I can record things I think of in the course of a day, and during brainstorming sessions that are unrelated to a current project. It keeps the creative juices flowing, and at the same time, allows you to keep focused on your work in progress.

In the past I’ve used a Word document, but that became tedious to manage, and difficult to navigate. I’ve also used a folder named “Ideas” with subfolders containing one or more documents. This again became tedious to manage, but easier to navigate.

I’m now using Microsoft OneNote. It’s not entirely ideal, but it’s working better than the other two methods. The advantage to OneNote is that I can access it from my Mac and from my iPhone. My iPhone is always with me; my Mac isn’t, so whenever and wherever I get an idea, or think of something to add to ones already recorded, I can use my iPhone, and it automatically syncs.

Alternatively, you could use Scrivener to record ideas - each idea perhaps getting a chapter, using scenes to expand the idea as more comes to you over time. At this time, as far as I know, there’s no easy way to access and update a Scrivener project using a mobile phone.

Not that I’m plugging Microsoft; I’m looking forward to trying Scrivener for iOS when it’s released. If that works as I hope, I may switch my idea log to Scrivener.

Regardless of the method you use, keep track of the ideas you get, even if they don’t fit into your current project!

Hope this helps…